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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Races Tightening Across the Country; Neocons Speak Out
Aired November 06, 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: Here's where we stand right now, at the top of the hour.
The race appears to be tightening. New polling tonight shows a majority of Americans would still prefer a Democratic Congress, but by a shrinking margin. How much? We're going to look at that in a moment.
Race by race, especially on the Senate side, anything could happen. Turnout matters. State ballot initiatives matter. But, in the end, what happens tomorrow may hinge on whether voters use their local races to send a larger national message.
CNN's Bill Schneider looks at where things stand right now.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): How to sum up the mood of the voters this year: one word, angry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
NARRATOR: Tired? Angry? Had enough? Then, it's time for a change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: That's not an ad for a cruise vacation or a headache remedy. It's a Democratic campaign ad, and it captures the mood of the voters this year.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they are angry about the way things are going in the country, which is why six polls, all taken in the last week, all show Democrats ahead by an average of 12 points. The CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation shows Democrats leading by 20 points among likely voters nationwide.
Two other polls also show double-digit leads. Three polls show narrowing Democratic leads, down to single digits. Could be a last- minute Republican rally, as GOP supporters realize they may lose their majority.
Pelosi panic? Some polls show it. Some polls don't. But it's something to watch for.
Why the differences? Each poll has its own formula for defining who is likely to vote, something that's notoriously difficult to do in a poll where nearly everybody says they intend to vote. There is no national race, of course, only 435 separate congressional district races.
So, why look at national polls? Because they tell you something about national conditions, which, this year, favor Democrats. That's why Democrats are hoping the usual rule, all politics is local, won't apply this year.
What are voters angry about? Hint: It's not, the economy, stupid. Voters are about 50-50 on the economy. They're not 50-50 on the war. More than 60 percent of Americans are anti-war. And it's shaping their vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, AD)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay the course.
NARRATOR: Voting with Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay the course.
NARRATOR: Right up to the mess Iraq has become today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to -- to stay the course.
NARRATOR: No, we don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: Voters who favor the war in Iraq are voting over 80 percent Republican. Anti-war voters are voting over 80 percent Democratic.
Iraq trumps other issues. Take people who feel the economy is doing fine, but oppose the war in Iraq. They say they intend to vote Democratic by more than 3-1.
COOPER: For Democrats to say that they have won, how well do they have to do?
SCHNEIDER: Better than expected.
Every race has a phantom candidate called expected. It's not enough to win. You have to do better than expected. And the problem -- the Democrats' problem is, expectations have been rising very fast. We just heard it from the panel. They're expected to win the House. In fact, we asked in a poll, who do you expect to control Congress? Sixty percent of Americans said they expect the Democrats to win the House. And there's an increasing expectation they're going to win the Senate.
If the Democrats make big gains, but don't win the House, it will be a devastating defeat. And if they make gains, and don't win the Senate, it will be a disappointment. COOPER: Bill Schneider, watching the numbers for us -- Bill, thanks very much.
No one has been watching this election more closely than CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
Wolf, Iraq, is it enough to get people out? Is what this election has boiled down to?
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": I those voters who really hate this war are really going to be motivated to get out there and vote.
Those who support, I think they will go out and vote, but it's -- it's less of a motivation than those -- the -- the people who really oppose what's happening in Iraq right now. And I think it -- it will be a huge factor, almost exclusively in favor of the Democrats.
COOPER: There are a lot of races which are really neck and neck at this point, in particular, what's happening in Virginia right now.
BLITZER: Virginia is going to be a very, very close race.
I mean, remember, George Allen, it was supposed to have been a cake walk for him. It's turning out to be very difficult. He's fighting for his political life, largely not because Webb has done such a great job, but because of the mistakes that he's made over these past many weeks.
I'm going to be looking at two races especially, because they -- they pit very attractive, very articulate, great candidates, both African-Americans, one Democrat, one Republican. And -- and, in Maryland, there's no doubt that Michael Steele, who's a Republican, has done a brilliant job. I don't know if he's going to get close enough to Ben Cardin to get himself elected the United States senator succeeding Paul Sarbanes, but he's been very effective so far.
COOPER: Michael Steele, who was basically handpicked by the Bush White House, running away, though, from the Bush White House...
BLITZER: That's right.
COOPER: ... in many ways in this race.
BLITZER: And he's doing well in Maryland. I live in Bethesda, so I know something about that state.
And, in Tennessee, Harold Ford Jr., which is a very, very red state, he's doing remarkably well, too. If these two guys can get themselves elected in these two states, it will say a lot about what's going on.
COOPER: Interesting to watch. Wolf, appreciate it. We will talk to you very briefly a little bit later on.
Wolf touched on it a bit -- now a closer look at three key Senate races where really anything could happen. Already -- well, already, nearly everything has in these three races. We're talking about dirty ads, robo-polling, push polling, racy novels, and, of course, the macaca incident that Wolf mentioned. You name it, it has happened.
We're talking about Virginia, Missouri, and Tennessee.
CNN's Ed Henry, Jonathan Freed and Joe Johns.
First, Ed Henry is in Richmond tonight -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this Senate race one of the nastiest -- as you noted, George Allen, the Republican incumbent, facing charges of racism because of that macaca moment -- the Democrat, Jim Webb, facing charges of sexism because of his novels and other writings -- the latest polls showing Allen -- "USA Today"/Gallup -- Allen up 49 percent to 46 percent. But that's clearly within the margin of error of five points. This is still a dead heat.
Forget about the poll for a moment. Take a look at what happened tonight in their final rallies. Tonight, here in Richmond, Virginia, George Allen had about 250 people at his last rally. Across the state, Democrat Jim Webb had 5,000 or 6,000 people turn out, because former President Bill Clinton was there, clearly some energy on -- on his side, partly because of Iraq.
Jim Webb campaigns in the combat boots of his son who is serving in Iraq right now. This has put George Allen on the defensive. He had been saying, stay the course. Now he's saying, there's not enough progress in Iraq. He, in fact, made -- with his back against the wall tonight, George Allen bought TV time all across the commonwealth, telling voters: Mistakes have been made in Iraq, but give me another six years. I want to turn this around.
But I talked to a very senior Republican in the Allen camp today, who told me they realize this could go either way. The campaign is going to sleep tonight not sure whether that -- he can really pull it out -- Anderson.
COOPER: How much has George Allen tried to distance himself from President Bush in this race?
HENRY: Well, you know, early -- just maybe three, four weeks ago, President Bush and the first lady were both here, raising money for George Allen, but they were not making large public appearances.
In the final couple of days, George Allen really distancing himself from this White House -- first of all, that -- that ad I noted tonight, some distance there on Iraq. But, also, last night, he had Rudy Giuliani here, a more moderate Republican -- clearly, in the final days, not having anyone associated with this White House coming in to stump for him -- Anderson.
COOPER: Another very tight race that were are watching right now is in Missouri, of course -- Jim Talent, the Republican, Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, really too close to call at this point. CNN's Jonathan Freed is in Saint Louis tonight. He joins us live from there -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it absolutely is too close to call.
And I have a couple of poll results here to explain why. Let's look at a "USA Today"/Gallup poll of likely voters -- Democrat Claire McCaskill coming in at 49 percent, and Republican Senator Jim Talent at 45 percent -- the margin of error here, Anderson, plus-or-minus 4 percent.
A second poll, the Mason-Dixon poll, also of likely voters, McCaskill, 46 percent, Talent 45 percent -- again, the margin of error plus-or-minus 4 percent. Now, even that poll that shows Democrat Claire McCaskill out ahead, it's still within the margin of error.
When you talk to the Talent people, on camera, of course, that's going to be very optimistic. They're saying that they're feeling that momentum going into tomorrow. You talk to these people candidly off camera, everybody here is shrugging and saying, look, this is a dead heat.
And one of the reasons for that, Anderson, is that Claire McCaskill, the Democrat, has managed to make inroads in what is traditionally a rural Republican constituency here in Missouri. One of the ways she has done that is by trying to turn this race into a referendum on the Bush presidency.
When Jim Talent was elected in 2002, President Bush's approval ratings were very high. We all know what's happened in the intervening years. And she is trying, right now -- McCaskill is trying to tie Talent to Bush -- Anderson.
COOPER: Appreciate that report.
Joe Johns is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, following another very close race, a race with national implications, a race that has been very -- has been watched, has been watched very closely -- very controversial, some of the ads that have run in this race. Of course, we're talking about Harold Ford Jr. running against Bob Corker.
Joe joins us now -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been a fascinating race here in Tennessee, Anderson.
We have seen a lot of volatility -- the polls going both ways over a very long race -- now, the latest numbers, coming, again, from "USA Today"/Gallup poll, showing Bob Corker, the Republican here in Tennessee, with a three-point lead. But that is still within the statistical margin of error, therefore, basically, a dead heat.
But you compare that to a recent Mason-Dixon poll that shows a double-digit lead for Bob Corker, the Republican, and you really wonder what is going on here in Tennessee? Of course, very hard to say. Among the things we can say is that what's happened here is that the Corker campaign has gotten just a lot of help from the Republican Party, the national Republican Party.
They have really flooded the state of Tennessee with people, who have gone door to door. They have also made a lot of calls. They have spent a lot of money, and, apparently, has started to pay off for them. Still, as I said, if it is, in fact, within the margin of error, that means the Democrat, Harold Ford of Memphis, still has a very good chance. He's spent the last couple days really pushing hard to get out the vote -- a great deal of energy at his events.
We went to an event just yesterday in Nashville -- a tremendous outpouring of people, music, lots of feeling. Of course, Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois, was there. So, there are high spirits in both camps here now, as it winds down -- both of those candidates going to their respective homes.
Mr. Corker, here in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will end up, around 2:30 in the morning, back home in the place where he was mayor for so long. Harold Ford will end up in Memphis, Tennessee. That, of course, is where his congressional district is located, looking for the election tomorrow.
Could be very close. People are worried about the weather here right now. But, mostly, they're focused on turnout -- Anderson.
COOPER: It's going to be a long day for the candidates, and a long day for you, Joe Johns, tomorrow. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
As always, tomorrow's election is going to hinge on voter turnout. And both parties face, really, the same challenges. It notoriously hard to get voters to the polls in an off-year election. Here's the "Raw Data."
In the last midterm elections, in 2002, just over 39 percent of eligible voters, 73 million, turned out. Now, you compare that to the 2004 presidential election, when close to 61 percent of voters, more than 122 million, cast ballots.
In the final stretch of campaigning today, Iraq continued to dominate the debate. Republicans, including President Bush, celebrating Saddam Hussein's death sentence as a milestone -- but is that how it's being seen by Iraqis? Coming up: a reality check from the streets of Baghdad.
Also, another scandal and another apology -- Pastor Ted Haggard's secret life outside the church, and how it might affect the evangelical vote tomorrow -- when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Sunday, we witnessed a landmark event in the history of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced to death.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was President Bush in Pensacola, Florida, today, just one of several stops he made on the campaign trail.
Saddam Hussein's guilty verdict and death sentence has given Republicans a new talking point on the eve of the midterm elections. Both the president and his party are spinning the news as a milestone for Iraq and a success for the White House.
But, on the streets of Iraq, the reaction is a bit more complicated, to say the least.
Joining me now with that from Baghdad is CNN's John Roberts -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Anderson. And good morning from Baghdad, where dawn is just beginning to break.
It's going to be interesting to watch and see what happens in the next few hours here, because, for about the past 48 hours, Baghdad has been in a virtual lockdown. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed on this city after the Saddam Hussein verdict was read. It was actually imposed in anticipation of it.
There, of course, course is always an overnight curfew here. The ban on pedestrian traffic was lifted late yesterday afternoon. But, just about 10 minutes ago, the ban on vehicular traffic was lifted. And it will be interesting to see if the Sunnis, who have reacted so violently to this death penalty against Saddam Hussein over the last couple of days, with some demonstrations in his hometown of Tikrit, and, as well, up in Kirkuk, will now take to the streets of this city and others around Iraq to voice their displeasure with guns and bombs -- Anderson.
COOPER: You know, John, there have been many milestones, what this administration has referred to as milestones, in Iraq over the last several years. Every one of these elections was a milestone. The killing of -- of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was said to be a -- a milestone. Now they're saying that the -- the conviction of Saddam Hussein and his death sentence is a milestone.
It -- it's not clear, however, though, that any of these milestones have really had any impact on lessening the violence. In fact, obviously the -- the violence has not lessened.
ROBERTS: No. And it's not clear that this is going to have any impact on that either, Anderson.
In fact, the fears are for exactly the opposite. Even American military commanders that I have talked to have said, so, Saddam Hussein's guilty verdict, the trial process is a victory for the nascent democracy here in Iraq and for the rule of law, but what's it going to mean on the streets?
Are Sunnis going to attack both Shias and the United States in -- in -- with -- with -- with greater vigor than they have before. And are Shiites now going to take this as a green light that they can go ahead and attack Sunnis, now that their former leader, the man who they looked up to for all those years, has been given the death sentence?
Very unclear at this point exactly what kind of an impact it's going to have on security on the ground, which is why the next few hours is going to be so interesting to watch here -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, John Roberts, be careful. Stay safe.
According to the polls, the war remains the diciest issue facing Republicans in tomorrow's elections. Democrats used the news of Saddam's verdict to again tell voters that the Republican strategy in Iraq is not working.
So, did "The Military Times" family -- so did the -- so did the -- excuse me -- so did "The Military Times" family of newspapers, independent papers catering to the armed forces. They are calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced.
With that story, here's CNN's Jamie McIntyre.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The editors of the "Army Times" papers argue they are giving voice to disillusioned U.S. commanders.
ROBERT HODIERNE, SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR, "ARMY TIMES": If you are a serving officer, there's 200-year tradition in this country of military subordination to civil authority. And they're not going to speak out loud.
MCINTYRE: No longer are just a few retired generals speaking out from the safety of the sidelines, argues the editorial published in all four editions of the paper, which, combined, boast a quarter-of-a- million subscribers of mostly military members and their families, but now the "Army Times" editors say they detect misgivings among active- duty generals, citing, for example, this statement from top commander General John Abizaid:
GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I have seen it in Baghdad in particular, and that, if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could -- could move toward civil war.
ROBERTS: The paper's editors don't say if they have talked to any top commanders directly, but write: "When the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control" -- their conclusion, "Rumsfeld has lost credibility. His strategy has failed. And he must go." The attack prompted a point-by-point rebuttal on the Pentagon's new For the Record Web page. It criticized what it called a selective use of General Abizaid's quotes, saying it ignored his clear support for the mission, and disputed the suggestions military commanders are disillusioned or that Rumsfeld has consistently issued rosy reassurances.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have never painted a rosy picture. I have been very measured in my words.
MCINTYRE (on camera): The "Army Times" newspapers are completely independent of the military. And, while published by Gannett, the editors say the decision to call for Rumsfeld's replacement was their own. They say it was not related to the election, but to their belief that the strategy in Iraq needs to be realigned, something they think won't happen while Rumsfeld is in charge.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
COOPER: Well, Donald Rumsfeld is also getting a scathing review by some of hi biggest reporters in the past -- coming up, a blunt assessment from high-powered neoconservatives, including Richard Perle. He will be on the program -- what they told "Vanity Fair" magazine, and why some of them now say they were duped.
Plus: The evangelical vote, it has always been predictable. So, why are some pollsters saying that, well, tomorrow, all bets may be off?
You're watching 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NED LAMONT (D), CONNECTICUT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: George Bush is driving the country into a ditch. And, on too many of those big issues, Joe Lieberman has got one hand on the steering wheel, saying, stay the course.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I think, on that great challenge of our time, the president gets it. And I -- I say that across party lines. And I think he's tried his best to alert America to that danger.
Now, having said that, I think a lot of mistakes have been made in the implementation of our foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont on the campaign trail in Connecticut today.
Those same sentiments can be found on "Vanity Fair" magazine's Web site tonight, only in much stronger language. And the people doing the talking, they aren't who -- aren't who you might expect. Some of the country's most powerful neoconservative Republicans, the very men who urged President Bush and his administration to invade Iraq in the first place, agreed to be interviewed for an article they were told would be published in January, well after the elections.
What they told "Vanity Fair" about how the Bush administration has performed in Iraq is damning, no doubt about it. What they didn't expect is the early release of the story.
Earlier, I talked to David Rose, the "Vanity Fair" contributing editor who wrote the story.
COOPER: Yes. I want to read you two quotes from -- from -- that you quoted, Richard Perle, who is the -- the -- the former chairman of the Defense Policy Board.
He said -- quote -- "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion. And the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible. I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition with his -- within his own administration, and the disloyalty."
And then you quote Kenneth Adelman: "I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national security team turned out to be the most competent national security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but, together, they were deadly dysfunctional."
How -- how so? What -- what specifically went wrong, in their opinion?
DAVID ROSE, CONTRIBUTOR EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": Well, I think what they felt is that, whereas their view -- that is, the view that power should be handed over very quickly to a provisional Iraqi government, that large numbers of Iraqi auxiliary forces should be trained up and sent in with the coalition in 2003 -- whereas that view was being advanced by the Pentagon, there were very strong opponents of that view in the State Department and the CIA.
And, although the White House, according to the rhetoric of the president, with his so-called freedom agenda, appeared to support the view that the neocons, for want of a better label, held, it just wasn't getting hammered out in the decision-making pro -- process.
COOPER: A number of people also seem to blame Condoleezza Rice and the National Security Council. One person points out that they feel Condoleezza Rice had too much of a -- a familial relationship with the president, and -- and he, therefore, didn't sort of challenge her, as he would have an executive.
ROSE: Well, that's right.
In fact, it's Richard Perle who said that -- that her relationship with the president was -- was familial. I think it's now quite well-known that she often spends weekends and holidays with the president's family.
And -- and I think the view that -- that Mr. Perle and a number of the others I interviewed hold -- hold is that that closeness, that -- that almost family nature of their relationship -- you will remember she famously once referred to him as "my husband" at a dinner party, and then corrected herself. Of course, he's not her husband.
COOPER: Almost every person that you have interviewed has complained about the timing of the -- the -- of these excerpts being released on "Vanity Fair"'s Web site. And -- and many of them said their -- their quotes were simply taken out of context.
Richard Perle had said that you promised not to publish his remarks before the election. And he accused of "Vanity Fair" of -- I quote -- "condescending and characterizing my views for their own partisan political purposes. They have distorted my opinion about the situation in Iraq."
Number one, did you promise Richard Perle that you wouldn't publish these comments until after the election?
ROSE: Well, what -- what happened was this.
I told all the people I interviewed that the article would be published in either the February or the January issue of "Vanity Fair," which is indeed the case. It will be published in the January issue of "Vanity Fair," which will be on the newsstands early December.
I, at that stage, didn't know that there was any prospect or any way of -- of publishing it earlier. It turned out that -- that there was. I turned in my piece on Thursday afternoon. And, the following day, I was told that the magazine thought that what I had found, the interviews that I had conducted, were so important that they should publish a shortened form of the article, with some of the more important quotes excerpted at the end.
And -- and that was the decision the editors took, because they felt it was in the public interest that the American people should know these things before the election.
COOPER: I'm sorry. Do you feel the press release has been misleading, and that their quotes have been taken out of context?
ROSE: No, I'm afraid I don't think it's misleading.
And the thing is, I mean, I -- I -- I was -- I'm slightly surprised by -- by their saying that, because I actually went back to the transcripts, and I read again what they told me. And -- and the truth is that the full context of those interviews, the full substance of what they said is, if -- if anything, more critical of the administration.
When you put it into its full context, what they're saying is -- is extremely far-reaching. I mean, they are making a whole series of -- of quite damning criticisms.
COOPER: Finally, Michael Rubin, a former Iraq adviser who you interview, said that -- that the press release was a -- he called it a cheap political shot a few days before the election.
And he went on to say not only that -- that you cherry-picked the quotes to give a different conclusion to what people were making. He says, "I would challenge 'Vanity Fair' right now to release the full transcripts of all the interviews, so that people can judge for themselves."
Is that a possibility?
ROSE: Well, let -- let me just deal with that point he makes.
I mean, and let -- let me say, I -- I -- I have a high regard for Michael Rubin. But I just cannot accept that -- that what is on the Web site misrepresents his views.
The truth is that, if -- if one reads these interviews in full, they amount to a much more sweeping criticism of the way the administration has functioned. Now, will the magazine put the interviews on the Web site in their entirety?
Well, you know, that's a question for the editors. And all I can say is, we may do.
COOPER: David, appreciate you -- you coming on to talk about it. Look forward to the article.
David Rose, thank you.
COOPER: Well, as you know, we don't take sides on this program. We believe in presenting all the sides, all the angles, letting you all at home make up your own minds.
I also talked today to Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, about the interview he gave to David Rose.
Here's what he had to say.
COOPER: Mr. Perle, do you feel you were misled by "Vanity Fair"?
RICHARD PERLE, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Oh, there's no question I was misled by "Vanity Fair," first, because I was concerned that -- that remarks might be taken out of context and used in the run-up to the election. So, I was promised that the interview would appear after the election. And, secondly, exactly what I feared happened. They took a few words out of many thousands of words and displayed them to create a misleading impression of what I think.
COOPER: David Rose, the author of the article, who I just spoke with, said that he did tell you that the -- the article would not be published until January, at the earliest. Do -- do you believe him?
PERLE: Yes, I do believe him. I think he's -- I think he's honest and trustworthy. I wouldn't have given -- given him the interview if I didn't think that.
COOPER: I -- I want to read you some of the quotes that you said, and -- and say whether or not you -- they are accurate, and if you feel that they have been taken out of context, or maybe explain them more.
David Rose quotes you as saying -- quote -- "The decisions did not get made that should have been," talking about Iraq. "They didn't get made in a timely fashion. And the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible. I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."
If that's correct, what did you mean by it?
PERLE: Well, a number of critical issues about the conduct of the war, and, more particularly, about the aftermath of the successful toppling of Saddam's regime, a lot of those decisions just didn't get made in a timely fashion.
And the president was, as far as I can tell, never invited to step in and resolve even quite fundamental differences within his administration.
COOPER: You also are quoted in the article as saying: "I think, if I had been delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said, 'Should we go into Iraq?,' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.'"
Obviously, you don't think the U.S. should pull out now. You think that could lead to -- to disaster.
But, I mean, David Rose cites that quote as perhaps what he found to be the most surprising. Do you...
PERLE: Well, I think in the fullness of the interview that quote isn't quite as stark as it sounds. I believe that waiting again, beyond the risk of waiting too long, but with terrible consequences. And therefore, we had to act to deal with Saddam Hussein.
Now, there were other ways of viewing dealing with him than direct invasion of this sort that we actually mounted. So I would have explored other ways of dealing with him if I had thought that it would bring us to the situation we're in now.
COOPER: What do you think some of the other options were?
PERLE: That we certainly had the option of military action followed by handing Iraq over to Iraqis, which is what I believe we should have done.
The seminal mistake in our view was the occupation, bringing Bremer in. With the result that we got in insurgency that didn't exist in the first months.
COOPER: The article in "Vanity Fair", David Rose, and I talked to him before, he said he expected to find you and other so-called neocons discouraged, but what he found you -- what he found was despair and fury about the way this war has been executed. Is that fair?
PERLE: No, I think that -- I think that's not fair. I'm certainly not in despair, and I'm certainly not furious.
As I say, I believe mistakes were made. Now I think we're more or less on the right track and I hope that there's time, having made the corrections, to succeed in Iraq. I know that it would be a catastrophe if we were to make any immediate retreat from Iraq.
COOPER: That political failure was the failure on the part of this administration or a failure on the Iraqis?
PERLE: Oh, I believe it was a failure on the part of this administration. I think they didn't understand that only Iraqis could construct a new Iraq.
COOPER: Finally, should Donald Rumsfeld still be secretary of defense?
PERLE: The president chooses the secretary of defense. He's sticking with don Rumsfeld. I think Don Rumsfeld, like others in the administration, have made errors. But to start with somebody new at this point, I'm not sure that would improve the situation.
COOPER: Richard Perle, appreciate your comments and your perspective. Thank you.
Well, from the questions over the war to a question of faith, pastor Ted Haggard finally owning up to living a life of deception and lies.
And later, what if the Democrats take back Congress, what would it actually mean in Iraq, on taxes? What would they or could they actually do? We'll look at the options ahead.
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SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. I'm voting for that amendment. My opponent is not. And I think the vast majority of Virginians believe that the Marriage Protection Amendment needs to be put into law.
JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We must reorder our national offense and our foreign policy after this debacle in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that's George Allen and Jim Webb fighting it out in Virginia. Tomorrow voters in Virginia and several other states are going to vote on ballot issues involving same-sex marriage.
One of those states is Colorado, where the pastor, Ted Haggard, has been speaking against equality in same-sex couples. Tonight, the very same Pastor Haggard, who once had close ties to the White House, is dealing with the embarrassing repercussions of what until this weekend was a very secret life. A life of deception and lies.
CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
REV. TED HAGGARD, FORMER PASTOR, NEW LIFE CHURCH: All right. Everybody ready to study the Bible? Yes or no.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hypocrisy is not mentioned in the Ten Commandments.
HAGGARD: We say moral purity is better than immorality. We say telling the truth is better than telling a lie.
TUCHMAN: But that doesn't mean hypocrisy is not frowned upon.
HAGGARD: I did call him. I did call him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you call him about?
HAGGARD: I called him to buy some meth.
TUCHMAN: Ted Haggard is learning firsthand what happens when you don't practice all that you preach.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever used meth before?
HAGGARD: No, I have not. And I did not ever use it with him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did you ever have sex with him?
HAGGARD: No, I did not.
TUCHMAN: Haggard told the reporter he received a massage but was a bit more candid a couple days later in letter he wrote that was read to his congregants.
PASTOR LARRY STOCKSTILL, PASTOR, NEW LIFE CHURCH: "The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life."
TUCHMAN: Haggard has now been fired from the 14,000-member New Life Church that he founded, and he's also no longer the president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals.
The dominos started falling when this former gay prostitute claimed he had sexual encounters with Haggard, although he denies selling him meth.
MIKE JONES, HAGGARD ACCUSER: People say you did it for politics? I said, you bet I did. I thought it was very important. We have two initiatives on our ballot this year that are very important. And you know, hypocrisy is hypocrisy and it needed to be shown.
TUCHMAN: Also now being shown: shock and disillusionment in the flock.
STOCKSTILL: He had developed a pattern of deception and that is why it took us so long to really arrive at the truth. We still haven't.
TUCHMAN: Haggard, who's participated in conference calls with White House officials to discuss religious and moral issues, has supported a Colorado measure to ban same-sex marriages.
In the recently released motion picture "Jesus Camp", a documentary about children and the fundamentalist movement, Haggard is unequivocal.
HAGGARD: We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible.
TUCHMAN: He then playfully chides the cameraman.
HAGGARD: I think I know what you did last night. If you send me $1,000, I won't tell your wife.
TUCHMAN: Funny then. Not so funny now. Particularly if you're Reverend Haggard's wife, who also wrote a letter that was read this Sunday.
STOCKSTILL: "What I want you ladies to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death do us part."
TUCHMAN: CNN visited Haggard in his church last year. In his sermon he talked about temptation.
HAGGARD: I'm talking about that secret part of your heart that other people don't know about. I'm talking about the thoughts that don't go through your mind. I'm talking about the schemes that are out there in the world to cause us to mess up our lives.
TUCHMAN: In this case it does appear Ted Haggard preached what he practiced.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, New York.
COOPER: It has been a fascinating story. And they seem to be saying that he's continuing to be deceptive at some level, the people in his church. Do you think this has any political ramifications?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I think in the short term it will. I think it will discourage some evangelical Christians from being -- it's such a shocking story, given his reputation, given what he stood for. He had reached the pinnacle of power among the Christian evangelicals.
I think some of them will be disillusioned. I didn't notice in the new "Newsweek" magazine poll on white evangelicals. The top it will discourage some evangelical Christians from being -- it's such a shocking story given his reputation, given what he stood for. He had reached the pinnacle of power among the Christian evangelicals.
I think some of them will be disillusioned although the "Newsweek" magazine poll on white evangelicals, the top issue for white evangelicals going into this election is Iraq.
And the other issues going down are not necessarily the issues you would think, like same-sex marriage or prayer in schools or things like that. It's the economy and the war on terror and Iraq.
So you can't just lump millions and millions of Christian evangelicals into one camp.
COOPER: It did seem like some Christian conservative leaders were trying to distance himself from Haggard. I think you spoke to Reverend Falwell on Thursday or Friday, I think it was -- Thursday, I think it was. And he seemed to be saying, "Well, look, I didn't really know the guy or really know much about him."
BLITZER: Right. As soon as this story broke it was such a shocking story to begin with. I spoke to the Reverend Jerry Falwell, and his immediate reaction was, "Well, you know, he was someone I didn't really get to know that well in the evangelical community."
But it's -- it is a shocking story. It's a great tragedy.
COOPER: Thanks, Wolf. Appreciate it. Wolf Blitzer.
The Haggard scandal play not sway the evangelical vote, but war in Iraq could, as Wolf mentioned. We're going to take a look at how Iraq may shape what Christian conservatives do at the polls tomorrow when 360 continues.
COOPER: That's Pastor Ted Haggard before the scandal broke. When it comes to morality, Americans may be losing faith in the Republican Party. According to a CNN poll by Opinion Research Corporation, 51 percent said that if Democrats controlled Congress they would move the country the right direction on moral issues. Compare that to just 35 percent for Republicans.
Many evangelical Christians vote Republican, of course, and have done so for decades. That is unlikely to change. The question tomorrow is will they vote at all?
CNN's John King has more.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR (voice-over): The Word of Grace Ministries in central Pennsylvania. The Bible is the guide here. Song, a cherished part of evangelical worship.
On this day Pastor Dave Landis steers his sermon to politics. And for once, it is the flock that has to keep the preacher on the right path.
PASTOR DAVE LANDIS, PASTOR: We want to encourage you to vote again. November 9th. When is it now, the 7th? OK. Get out there and vote, amen.
KING: The prayers and faces of the people who put Republicans in power. And in an already tough year for the GOP, there are signs some feel those they sent to Washington have not kept the faith.
LANDIS: You would think with the control of the House and Senate and the president there could have been more things put on the table that could have been, you know, pushed a little harder. And so I'd say that there's a little disappointment in some folks.
KING: Lois Romberger among the disappointed, still likely to vote Republican but frustrated at little progress on a promised constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
LOIS ROMBERGER, EVANGELICAL VOTER: I think that the war in Iraq and the security issues and everything put that sort of on the back burner.
KING: It's not just about partisan allegiance: commitment and passion matter, especially in midterm years when a lot of people just stay home. And there are worry signs for Republicans in the mood of people like retiree Stan Rockey.
STAN ROCKEY, EVANGELICAL VOTER: I'll still be loyal, but probably not as enthusiastic and excited as I was before.
KING: And he has company. Sixty percent of white evangelicals in a "Newsweek" poll say that they plan to vote Republican for Congress this year. That's down from more than 70 percent GOP support two years ago.
LANDIS: God's people said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amen.
KING: Another worry sign for the GOP? A Pew Research Center poll saying 58 percent of evangelical Christians support the Iraq war. Down from 71 percent in September.
REV. GREG WINGATE, ROSEDALE BAPTIST CHURCH: We ask the lord for your hand to be upon the various hot spots around the world, Lord.
KING: At tiny Rosedale Baptist church in Latoya (ph), Kentucky, with the weekly prayers for the troops in Iraq come growing questions about the president who sent them there.
WINGATE: There is a general sense, you know, what's happening there? You know, is this something, you know, that we've gone wrong about? You know, is this something we've failed in?
KING: John King, CNN.
COOPER: Of course, only time is going to tell if evangelical Christians do make a difference. I'll talk to former presidential adviser, David Gergen, about their votes as well as Iraq, and what that can mean for the elections coming up in a moment.
And the nightmare scenario for the Republicans. What if the Democrats win both the House and the Senate? What would it mean for the war, taxes and beyond? We'll take a look at that ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I just know that we can retain and restore our moral authority so kids all around the globe will look up to our children, will look up to our freedoms, will look up to our liberty and say, "You know what, that's the way I want to live, as well."
BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: People across the state of Tennessee realize that this is a choice. This is a choice between two individuals that cannot have had different life experiences, nor in reality a different view of what makes our country stronger, safer and more secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Harold Ford Jr. there and Bob Corker in their bitter Senate race in Tennessee. A race that has often seemed more personal than political.
The Republicans have courted and counted on the evangelical Christian vote for years now. While the majority of evangelicals support the war in Iraq, more and more are increasingly frustrated with the president and the GOP.
For more on what that may mean tomorrow, we're joined by former presidential adviser, David Gergen. You look at this Haggard scandal, do you think that's going to have any impact on the vote?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: I do. I think it's been one more disappointment for evangelicals, another person in power.
You know, it was Lord Acton a long time ago who says power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. We were always thinking he was talking about politicians. He was actually talking about clerics.
And there is a lot of sense among a lot of evangelicals that not only this past year but others -- and many, especially, Republicans have fallen into that trap. They've gone to Washington to -- to replace what they saw as a corrupt Democratic rule of the House of Representatives in the Senate. And they always thought that these folks would live by a higher standard.
And again and again among conservatives, too many of their friends have gone to Washington and seemed more interested today in power than they are in principle. That's the sense of -- source of frustration.
COOPER: I think a 2004 exit poll showed that white evangelicals voted 3-1 for Republicans. Democrats, have they done enough to try to make inroads into that?
GERGEN: No. The Democrats have not done enough. And Karl Rove thought, as you know, that after 2000 that one of the reasons that President Bush in the year 2000 did not win the majority vote was that the evangelicals stayed home. Three million of them stayed home.
So his whole -- whole push between 2000 and 2004 was to get the evangelicals out back voting again. And they succeed well beyond their expectations to help carry a state like Ohio, for example, where the gay initiative on the ballot also helped to bring out evangelicals.
Now this time they're worried about a falling back. They may -- you know, they may recede, that they're disappointed and may not vote.
COOPER: So it's not tomorrow that they're going to vote for Democrats, but they may just not vote at all?
GERGEN: They may stay home. They may go fishing, as a matter of fact, and send a message to the party, look, just don't take us for granted. You haven't done enough.
Now, there are a lot of liberals who will look at that and say what do you mean he hasn't done enough? Look at what he did on the Supreme Court? Look at the people he put on the Supreme Court?
Didn't he deliver for his evangelical base? Didn't he deliver on the abortion issue? But you know, from the evangelical point of view that was only the beginning. They were looking for much more than what they've gotten.
COOPER: And Wolf mentioned earlier in program it was fascinating in a recent "Newsweek" poll, Iran polled as the No. 1 issue among evangelicals.
GERGEN: Well, that's right. And so it is also true evangelicals are important about the war. But they had really thought that George W. Bush as a man of faith -- and it's one of the reasons they voted for him -- because they really do respect people who come to office as people of faith. They were looking for that.
The other thing the Democrats have done this time is go out and recruit people to run for office who are people of faith. The Democratic Party made a terrible mistake over the years of letting himself become seen as the godless party.
COOPER: Harold Ford Jr. has the Ten Commandments printed on the back of his business cards.
GERGEN: Exactly. And he was on Larry King just a little earlier talking about I believe in my maker and this race is in the hands of god. You just don't hear many Democrats talking about that that way anymore.
But to have these new kind of Democrats come on, that's also going to tell the evangelicals, you know, you have someplace else to go.
COOPER: And is that the future for the Democratic Party? I mean, is -- whether Harold Ford Jr. wins or not, a lot of people have been looking at the way he ran his campaign, the message, the aspirational message. They're look at Barack Obama, even Hillary Clinton is talking about faith more and more now.
COOPER: Is that just...
GERGEN: I think the only way a progressive party become a majority party in the United States is to have a very large gap in which people -- in which people who are -- who disagree on the issue of abortion, who like Casey, who is likely to win the Senate seat in Pennsylvania tomorrow, they recruited him. They knew he was pro life. Harry Reid is pro life. I think they're going to have a heck of a time run writing a platform in the year 2008.
COOPER: What happened to Rick Santorum? I mean, this is a guy who people were talking about him as a presidential candidate, and now by all polls, by most people's assumptions, he's not going to win tomorrow.
GERGEN: I think he -- I think he lost touch with the mood of Pennsylvania. You know, the whole northeast and now increasingly see that through New York, Pennsylvania, out into places like Indiana and Ohio, they really have turned pretty anti-President Bush and the war.
And there's been a real -- there are only -- if northeast, we may wake up on Wednesday morning seeing a northeast now which is solidly Democratic. There are only five members in the House of Representatives in the northeast. Four of them have their seats in play. If they get knocked out, there will only be one Republican representing the whole northeast.
In Pennsylvania there are several that could get knocked out, too. I think Santorum has gotten caught in those cross winds. He's just not -- he -- he's out of step with the mood of Pennsylvania right now. And I think that's been -- I think that's come back to haunt him.
And Bob Casey surprisingly, as a pro life candidate, has actually captured -- I think it's more a race that Santorum has lost than that Casey has won.
COOPER: Interesting. David Gergen, thanks.
What if the Democrats do win tomorrow? We'll look at what that can mean coming up.
But first, Tom Foreman is in Washington with the "360 Bulletin" -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson.
A third U.S. serviceman has pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the death of a Iraqi civilian last spring. Marine Lance Corporal Tyler Jackson has admitted to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
He will now testify against five others facing charges in the death of a father of 11 in the town of Hamdaniya.
About an hour east of L.A., a wildfire has destroyed more than 600 acres, threatened up to 100 homes and forced the evacuation of two schools. Look at that.
The fire is about 30 percent contained. But gusting winds, those dreaded Santa Anas are not helping a bit.
Farther up the coast in Washington state, the opposite problem, rain and flooding. The governor has declared a state of emergency for 18 counties. And tonight a hunter was found dead after his truck was swept into the swollen river.
In New York, she survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo hit during World War II. But the USS Intrepid is no match for Hudson River mud. The floating museum was supposed to be moved to New Jersey for renovations, but tug boats made it only about 15 feet before the big ship's propellers got stuck in the bottom mud.
A second attempt may be made at next month's high tide or the Intrepid may stay right where she is with that major makeover being done right on-site. What do you think about that?
COOPER: Wow, it's great museum. I don't know if you've ever been to it. But it is...
FOREMAN: I have not. I know where it is now. It's not going anywhere for a while.
COOPER: Visit it for years to come.
A lot more to come on this election, including what happens after the election. What happens if the Democrats win control of one or both houses of Congress?
Then, state by state, the latest on how the campaign is shaping up and what could happen tomorrow night. We'll take you around the country.
Also, no matter what happens tomorrow night, how will George Bush's final two years look? What can a lame duck president really accomplish?
All that and more at the top of the hour, just hours away from election day.
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