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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

NYC Explosion; Brazil Plane Crash; Warnings Ignored?; Senate Showdown; Iraq: The End Game; Dems & Religion

Aired July 18, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Also tonight, new details on the fiery crash of an airliner in Brazil, what it says about the similar airports here in America with short runways and tight approaches and not a lot of margin for error.
Plus, the Senate showdown over pulling the troops out of Iraq. Lawmakers camped out, talked themselves silly, and accomplished what exactly? And what about their Iraqi counterparts planning to take all of next month off while American forces fight and die? We're "Keeping them Honest."

We begin with that explosion.

Here's what people saw in Midtown Manhattan at the height of rush hour today -- 41 -- 41st Street, near Lexington Avenue, almost directly above Grand Central Terminal, a steam pike broke. A transformer exploded. The ground shook, then tore open.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard this vast explosion. The building shook a little bit. And small particles of rocks came through our window on the 27th floor. So, then we decided we'd get the hell out of there, because there was not a news flow, took the elevator downstairs.

There were a lot of people in. I had one of my trainees with me. I just checked the outside. The rocks came at me. And then I dashed out with the rocks falling on me.

Certain people panicked a little bit, with crying, shouting, because obviously everybody thinks of 9/11, you know, a repeat of this. But it now sounds like it was a transformer. But it was a very powerful explosion, possibly the most powerful explosion I ever have been so close to, because we were basically 10 yards away from it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As it came, it basically -- the entire ground rumbled, and you could feel it. It shook and I came downstairs and there were like people screaming and stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just coming over on Park Avenue, passing Park Avenue and about a half-dozen people just laying there covered with mud and debris, and they weren't being treated at all. They weren't getting any attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: CNN's Mary Snow is on the scene with the latest on what happened, the injuries, and at least one fatality.

Mary, what happened?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, you know, four hours after this happened -- I just want to set the scene for you -- you can see, these streets are just still filled with police, fire vehicles.

And if you take a look around, you see some of the police officers wearing masks. You also see some workers coming out in protective gear.

The latest information we have at this point, as you said, is one person has been -- has died of heart failure, 26 people have been injured. We know two of them at least seriously, and also three firefighters and a police officer.

This is the scene right now where asbestos tests are going on because there's a fear that asbestos was released. And there's been an area that has been frozen off after....

COOPER: What caused this explosion?

SNOW: Well, the city really thinks at this point it was a failure of these pipes that run under the city. And, of course, the first thought was that it was terrorism related. We now know, officials are saying, that it was not terrorism related. But they think that maybe cold water got into these steam pipes that run under the city.

COOPER: And then the steam pipe -- and then a transformer blew?

SNOW: That's what happened.

And these pipes are used to, you know, transport steam for things like air conditioners. They were built in 1924, so that's really the concern about the asbestos. But, when that steam pipe burst, that's when the transformer exploded.

And it left a crater about 20 feet -- 25 feet wide in diameter and swallowed a tow truck.

And the plume of smoke -- behind me is the Chrysler Building. It's over 70 feet -- 70 stories high, and some people said that the plume of steam and smoke was visible at the top of the Chrysler Building at one point.

COOPER: Mary Snow, appreciate the reporting.

As we said at the top, this all happened at rush hour in a part of town where tens of thousands of people live and work.

Nick Parish is one of them. He joins us now by phone.

Nick, you work just a few blocks from where this happened. What did you hear?

NICK PARISH, WITNESSED EXPLOSION: Initially, I don't remember hearing too much, a little rumble.

What we saw was the most frightening. We looked out the second floor window of our office and there were people streaming up the street with that classic looking behind them and extremely frightened look on their faces. So, at that point we left the office and, you know, got out of there.

COOPER: I know initially, someone told you there had been some sort of a bomb. What was the scene like when you actually went down onto the street?

PARISH: It was -- it was just a deep, deep rumble, like someone had popped a hole in the Manhattan air mattress and air was just gushing out.

COOPER: We're looking at some of the video that you shot on our I-Report. How were other people reacting? Was it controlled? Was it -- obviously we saw some people running.

PARISH: I think, at that point, everyone that had sauntered down to 41st Street, which is where this took place, had realized that this thing wasn't going to blow up again, or there wasn't going to be some sort of secondary explosion.

So, they were kind of just looking on and gawking. But people were still very concerned.

COOPER: And how long did you stay on the scene for?

PARISH: About 10 or 15 minutes. The police eventually pushed us back off of Third Avenue and kind of extended a cordon. But, for a little while there, they -- there wasn't that much of a perimeter around us.

COOPER: You also came, I know, across a man who said he was on a bus just when the explosion took place and right in front of the explosion. What did he say?

PARISH: Yes. This guy -- this guy was apparently on a bus behind the explosion. He said that all of the windows blew out of this bus. Everyone kind of scrambled to get off this bus. They were pushing each other, leaving all their belongings on the bus.

And then the debris started raining down again on the roof of the bus. He used his briefcase -- it looked like he had a briefcase with him. He used that to sort of put over his head as he escaped from the bus. But his clothes were streaked with dirt. He had mud all over him. And he was pretty shaken up.

COOPER: Are you concerned at all, having been close to this, about any health implications?

PARISH: No, I don't think so. I mean, it was a little bit acrid. You know, clearly, if you're working down there, you should be wearing some sort of respirator or mask. But it didn't seem that -- that toxic.

COOPER: Nick, we're showing our viewers this picture of the sinkhole now with the truck inside it. It's just a remarkable view of some of the aftermath of this.

Nick Parish, appreciate you coming on and talking about what you saw. Thanks, Nick.

PARISH: You're welcome.

COOPER: Now the story of the fiery and deadly plane crash at Brazil's busiest airport, an airport much like a lot of destinations around this country.

Tonight, investigators in Sao Paulo have recovered the so-called black boxes, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. The Brazilian government has asked the American NTSB for help analyzing them.

But, already, this is being called an accident that did not have to happen at an airport that was an accident waiting to happen.

More from ITV's Bill Neely.


BILL NEELY, ITV REPORTER (voice-over): No one stood a chance, yet this was an inferno that so many saw coming. Of all disasters, this one was preventable.

All 186 on board died when their plane skidded on landing and crashed into a three-story building. It collapsed. Up to 20 died inside.

A few hundred yards away, relatives fought for information. He wants a passenger list.

Most didn't need a list.

This woman had come to meet her two sons, aged 12 and 17. They were on the plane.

Watching it all on another plane on the same runway, a British businessman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went past us as we were waiting. It was just flames licking in the air, like probably 30 or 40 meters high. It was just bang, straight into it. And it was just a big, big, big ball of flame.

NEELY: But it need never have happened. This runway is short, slippery and notorious. It was resurfaced weeks ago, but without the grooves that help rainwater drain and tires grip.

Planes were skidding yesterday.

It's Brazil's busiest airport in the very heart of its biggest city. This is 15 seconds from touchdown, high-rise buildings everywhere. And, in bad weather, the chances of catastrophe are high.

A decade ago, a plane from the same airline overshot the same runway, crashing into two blocks of flats, killing 100 people. But no lessons were learned. Two hundred died here because a faulty runway was kept open. Brazil is in mourning and in fury tonight.

Bill Neely, ITV News.


COOPER: Understandably.

A bit more about the runway in question. Two smaller planes slid off that runway on Monday. So did a 737 back in March. And recently a Brazilian court tried to bar certain aircraft from using the runway, but was overruled on appeal because the danger, it was argued, did not outweigh the economic ramifications of such a ruling -- in other words, money over lives.

There's another related factor at play, not just in Brazil, but here in America. People like their airport convenient. That means close. The question now, but does close also mean dangerous?

CNN's Jason Carroll is "Keeping them Honest."


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was Southwest Airlines' first fatal crash in the company's 35-year history, Chicago's Midway Airport, December 2005. A 737 slides off a snowy runway, plows through a fence, and clips a car. A passenger in that car, a 6-year-old boy, is killed.

June 1999: An American Airlines jetliner careens past the end of a runway in Little Rock, Arkansas. Eleven passengers are killed, 86 hurt.

August 2005: An Air France jet skids down the runway at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. This time, all 309 passengers and crew survive, including Rul Bramer (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it all goes so fast, that you really haven't got much time to think. You just want to get off that plane and run away from the disaster as quickly as you can.

CARROLL: Bramer (ph) survived the type of crash that is a persistent problem in aviation -- runway overruns. It frequently happens at older airports, with runways too short to easily accommodate larger planes.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OFFICIAL: It's absolutely not an overreaction. Air travel now is at the highest levels it's ever been. We're flying more. We're flying to different airports. These are the kinds of safety issues that ought to be addressed now, not after a tragedy has occurred.

CARROLL: Older urban airports, like New York's La Guardia, Boston's Logan, and Burbank, California, have all had serious problems with overruns.

ROSS AIMER, AVIATION EXPERT: What they have to do is to set aside certain areas around the airport, the parameter, and make sure that buildings, especially tall buildings, do not encroach upon that space.

CARROLL: So, what's the solution? "Keeping them Honest," we asked the Federal Aviation Administration what they have done about the problem.

A spokeswoman says the FAA has upgraded its safety standards.

Airports built within the past 20 years are required to have 1,000 feet of buffer at the end of runways. But meeting that requirement may be nearly impossible at older airports, where buildings, or like at La Guardia, water gets in the way.

In many cases, the FAA requires airports to install crushable concrete blocks at the end of runways.

KENT THOMPSON, ENGINEER: When an airplane runs off the end of the runway, the wheels crush the material, and, as they do that, they sink in. That produces a drag load that gradually brings the airplane to a safe stop.

CARROLL: Nineteen U.S. airports, including Midway and Burbank, now have those blocks in place.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, you may not realize this, but flying is one of the safest ways to travel in America. Here's the "Raw Data."

Ninety-two people were killed in plane crashes in 2000. By comparison, more than 14,000 people were killed traveling in a car; 5,870 pedestrians died in accidents. Nearly 3,000 motorcycle riders were killed, and 740 others were killed riding a bicycle.

Straight ahead tonight, hear from a top Democrat who says Republicans are talking tough about Iraq, even though they know the surge isn't working.

Also, outrage at Iraqi lawmakers planning to take the rest of the summer off.


COOPER (voice-over): Your country imploding, chaos and terror growing. So, what do you do?


COOPER: Iraqi lawmakers taking the month off. The White House says, hey, it's hot in Baghdad. What kind of excuse is that? We're "Keeping them Honest."

Also tonight, God and politics.


COOPER: Democrats and Republicans talking about faith. We will show you what they're saying and, more importantly, what voters are hearing from the candidates, tonight on 360.



COOPER: It's not clear how many Senators actually slept on those mattresses during their all-night debate on Iraq. In the end, the sleepover failed to force a vote on withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

Earlier today, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they needed to move their measure forward. Fifty-two supported it. Forty-seven opposed. Four Republicans backed the Democratic amendment.

The all-nighter was the Senate's first since 2003.

Republicans, you will note, called it a political stunt. Democrats said they're not giving up the fight to bring the troops home.

The Iraq debate is not over, certainly. It's about to take a pause, however. Congress shuts down in August. It's standard operating procedure in Washington, and now the new Iraqi government is doing the same.

That's right. The Iraqi parliament is taking August off, even as the White House prepares to deliver its report on progress in Iraq, even as U.S. troops are fighting and dying in the streets.

Last week, the White House released a preliminary report card. It wasn't the kind you would want to bring home to your parents exactly.

So, tonight, "Keeping them Honest," we're asking a simple question: Why take a vacation now?

Here's CNN's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is put up or shut up time for the Iraqi parliament, a little more than a month to go before President Bush reports to Congress on what progress has been made in Baghdad.

Top of the political agenda, an oil and gas law that would divvy up oil revenues. So, what is the Iraqi parliament doing? Taking a vacation, in August, right before the administration's September deadline, which means the so-called sovereign government in Iraq, which really isn't that sovereign at all, with militias and 160,000 U.S. troops there, won't be hashing out all those political problems before the coalition forces can leave.

Some say the summer recess in Iraq is, well, a bad idea.

RICK BARTON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There's just way too much to be done. They are not going to be any more productive than most legislative bodies. We should simplify the agenda. They should deal with a couple of big issues, and we should be happy with that. But they shouldn't leave until those are addressed.

JOHNS: The White House helpfully points out that the United States Congress is taking August off, too. Besides, it's darn hot in Baghdad.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August. I will pass on your recommendation.

JOHNS (on camera): "New York Times" Columnist Tom Friedman, in an acid-dripping op-ed this morning, notes that 130 degrees is, well, a whole lot hotter inside a U.S. military uniform with body armor.

Friedman writes, "For the Bush White House to excuse it with a Baghdad weather report shows just how much it has become a hostage to Iraq."

(voice-over): But "Keeping them Honest," walk a mile in the shoes of the Iraqi legislators, if you dare. It's 130 and people are shooting at you, or, as happened this last session, strapping on a suicide bomb and blowing it up in the parliamentary cafeteria.

BARTON: The situation in Iraq is not at all like our situation in Washington. We have problems, and many people in this country think they are crises. But they're not life-and-death crises of the sort that the Iraqis are facing right now. But it would be helpful if this new breed of Iraqi political leader recognized that there are some critical elements that they do have to get done before they take care of their own business.

JOHNS: Still, being at work doesn't guarantee results, not in Iraq, not even in Washington. After all, the U.S. Senate's all- nighter to debate the Iraq war produced zip. And after that exhausting ordeal, the U.S. Congress is eagerly awaiting its August break. The president will be in Crawford. After all, it's hot here, too.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We should point out, U.S. soldiers who are fighting and dying in Iraq and Marines and others do not get to take the month of August off.

This morning, Senate Republicans managed to quash the Democrats' amendment to force the withdrawal of U.S. troops. But the way Democrats see it, they may have lost this round, but the fight is not over, by a long shot. Party leaders are already looking ahead to the next bout.

Earlier, I talked to Senator John Kerry.


COOPER: You and other Democrats are hoping to convince moderate Republicans to vote alongside the Democrats to force a change of strategy. Only four Republican Senators voted with the Democrats this morning. But you say the Republicans -- there are other Senators out there who have privately told you and other Democrats that the Iraq policy is wrong.

But that's not what they're saying publicly, and that's not how they're voting. If that's true, isn't that incredibly hypocritical of them?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think what's happened is that they feel they're in a confrontation in defense of their president and their party. And that, unfortunately, has taken a precedence.

What we need to do, hopefully, is pull the parties together here and make policy for our country and for the soldiers, not for either party. And my hope is that leadership will stand up, that it will demand that we do that over the course of the next weeks.

COOPER: What is the number one problem? Do the Iraqi -- I mean, politically -- you can talk about military benchmarks, but, politically, which everyone says is the most important benchmarks, none of them have been met. Do the Iraqis -- does the leadership just not get it? Do they not really agree with the benchmarks? Do they have another agenda?

KERRY: They have another agenda. They have another series of agendas and different agendas according to different people.

And, right now, there is no center of power that has emerged that seems to be dominant or possibly dominant in a way that sends a signal to people, hey, we better line up and we better compromise.

COOPER: I want to play something that Senator John McCain said last night on the floor of the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we leave, that there's going to be a vacuum, there's going to be chaos, and there's going to be genocide. We should face up to and begin to address the consequences of withdrawal.


COOPER: Do you believe there will be chaos, the potential for genocide?

KERRY: There already is a kind of light -- I hate to say this -- I mean, it sounds horrible, but a sort of genocide-light, in the sense that there's been ethnic cleansing taking place and whole communities have been moved right now.


COOPER: You think a form of genocide is already taking place?

KERRY: Well, there's clearly elimination of people based on their own their racial definition or their religious definition. And the result is that there is an awful lot of killing today and separation of people, according to those definitions. Sunni have been moved out of neighborhoods. Shia are being killed because they're Shia.

That's taking place now. Would there be a continuation of that and maybe even in some places a greater amount? That's a possibility.

COOPER: Is this the worst blunder in U.S. foreign policy history, in your opinion?

KERRY: Well, certainly in modern U.S. foreign policy history, without any question, and possibly in all of our history, yes.

COOPER: Senator Kerry, appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

KERRY: Thank you.


COOPER: Erica Hill joins us right now with a quick 360 bulletin -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a big bust in Mosul, Iraq. The U.S. military saying it has arrested a senior leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. They say he served as a point person between its leadership and Osama bin Laden's top leaders. And, during interrogations, they say he is dishing out information on the workings of both groups.

Daniel Pearl's widow is suing al Qaeda, along with more than a dozen reputed terrorists and a Pakistani bank, all over her husband's murder. Mariane Pearl says the terrorists, with the bank's support, carried out the kidnapping, torture, and execution of "The Wall Street Journal" reporter in 2002. In Utah, a jailed polygamist vows to go from four wives to one. Tom Green made the pledge before a parole board as it considers the condition of his prison release next month. Green was convicted in 2001 of having sex with his first wife when she was 13. He was 37. He was also convicted of bigamy and other charges -- Anderson.


HILL: Yes.

COOPER: How do you break that news to the other wives?

HILL: Well, that's a good question. I don't really think there's a manual for that one.

COOPER: Probably not.

HILL: I'm guessing.

But moving on to "What Were They Thinking?" That may be one for you, but we have got another one.

This one will either get your blood boiling or send a chill down your spine. This may look like just normal ice, but this ice is special. It's ice that was supposed to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, all at a cost of $24 million. Now, get out your calculator here, because you want to add to that the $12.5 million FEMA spent to store the unused portion of that ice for the last two years. And then...

COOPER: Wait. For the last two years, they have been storing this ice?

HILL: Yes, at the cost of $12 million.


HILL: But we're not done.

And then you're going to tack on another $3.4 million because they had to pay a company to melt the ice, Anderson. Yes.

COOPER: Wait a minute. They paid a company more than $3 million to melt the ice?

HILL: That's right, because, see, they had originally hung onto it, thinking, well, hey, maybe we will need it for another hurricane. But then they decided to get rid of it all, because FEMA just couldn't decide whether or not it was still safe for human consumption, although -- get this -- a FEMA spokesperson actually says the agency tried to donate it, but no takers.

Hey, here's ice. We don't know if it's good. You want it? Yeah.

COOPER: Man. You can almost see your tax dollars literally washing down the drain with that story.

HILL: Yes, I think you really can.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

Now here's Kiran Chetry with what's coming up tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING."



Tomorrow, we bring you the most news in the morning, including an important warning for anyone with a cell phone. If you have to call 911, would 911 be able to find you?

Let's listen to this disturbing call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband just in here and -- and abused me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What's your address?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He tried to take a phone from me...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your address?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so that I -- so that I -- so that I can call somebody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your address?



CHETRY: Well, it's a true story about how states may not be using the taxes that you pay on every cell phone bill to enhance 911.

We're going to show you more on that tomorrow beginning at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.

Anderson, back to you.


COOPER: Disturbing call.

Up next, God and politics. This election, it seems like everyone is talking about religion on the campaign trail. Even pro-choice and several-times-divorced Rudy Giuliani is trying to woo Christian conservatives. He's not alone, certainly -- why both parties are now preaching to voters, next.


COOPER: This Monday, I will be at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, for the first CNN/YouTube presidential debate. I will be hosting the event.

But as we have been telling you all week, you are going to be supplying the questions. Just put it in a video, post it on YouTube. You have until July 22 to submit a question. We have been getting -- I don't know. I think we have around 1,400 right now.

A number of the questions have been about faith. Here is a sampling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Mike, a very politically minded artist living in Pittsburgh. I'm about a month shy of my 25th birthday, and I am an atheist. I'd like to know if Senators Clinton or Obama, based on what they've seen of American politics thus far, think it's possible that I could be elected president some day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to know how you will ensure that certain controversial scientific theories like evolution will be taught alongside other established theories like intelligent design.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How often do your religious beliefs impact your decision making? And can you see a time where you'd go against those beliefs, if it meant a positive change for the country?


COOPER: Some interesting suggestions there. If you have one, we want to hear from you. Just make your video under 30 seconds. Everything else you need to know is at Check it out.

Again, the Democratic debate next Monday, July 23, at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

If there's one big truth that has emerged from the last few elections, it's that religion matters. More than gender, age or income, your beliefs about God often determine how you vote. So for the next couple of nights, we're going to take a close look at faith in this election.

And to start us off, Tom Foreman has the raw reality of religion and politics in God's country -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, 85 percent of Americans say that they are Christian, according to the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. But going after that faith vote is tricky, because that big group contains three smaller, but significantly different groups.

The largest of these, evangelical Protestants. They tend to take what the Bible says literally. They go to church a lot, and they vote conservatively.

Mainline Protestants can seem less fervent about their faith, and they tend to like moderate candidates.

And Catholics, their church is strongly against abortion rights. But in terms of helping the poor or immigrants, they can be socially quite liberal.

Now let's look at the map. In the East, the Catholics dominate, with 35 percent of the population. In the South, the evangelicals are just huge. More than half of the population there.

The Midwest is the most balanced region, with each of the three claiming about a quarter to a third of the population, although evangelicals still have an edge there. And they lead out West, too, but in this part of the country, you also have the largest percentage of people who are non-Christians or who don't follow any faith.

So, Anderson, when a candidate says he or she is going after the Christian vote, the first questions you have to ask are which Christians and where?

COOPER: Interesting. Tom, thanks for that.

We -- we're going to have more from Tom in just a moment.

Republicans have made, really, a science out of rallying religious voters.

But this year, the party's Christian conservative base is torn and wondering whether to roll the dice on Rudy Giuliani. Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, three times married Rudy Giuliani.

Can a Republican, who looks a lot like a Democrat, close the deal with the faithful?

CNN's Candy Crowley takes a look.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Allen Rawley owns a printing shop in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

ALLEN RAWLEY, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: My dad was a pastor. I grew up in a Christian home. And those values are absolutely most important to me. Pro-life is extremely important to me.

CROWLEY: And yet here, deep in the Bible Belt, this self- described conservative Christian right voter says he might vote for Rudy Giuliani.

RAWLEY: And I believe Giuliani would be the kind of leader that would be resolute and recognize that there's a threat there and we have to face it.

CROWLEY: Richard Land is a leading voice of evangelicals who says he would never vote for Giuliani, but understands why others will.

RICHARD LAND, ETHICS & RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION: I mean, we are in a war. And I personally think that for many voters, whatever their moral values are, they're going to say to themselves, which one of these people do I think will make me and my family safer?

CROWLEY: A June CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that, among Christian conservatives, Giuliani led the other potential Republican candidates.

DAVID WINSTON, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: What this gets to is sort of a broader concept in terms of sort of Republican social conservative base is, while they are concerned about these issues, they are not being dogmatic about those issues.

CROWLEY: The willingness of the religious right to consider Giuliani is part terrorism, part pragmatism, which is to say they want to win.

RAWLEY: Facing reality, Giuliani, at this point of announced candidates, is probably our best shot at electing a good, reasonably conservative, strong leader for America.

CROWLEY: But it's not just about finding someone who can win; it's about finding someone who can make sure that Hillary Clinton loses.

LAND: A social conservative really want a social conservative they can support. But a lot of them also really want to beat Senator Clinton. I think she's the unseen candidate in the Republican primaries.

CROWLEY: It's hard to overestimate the kind of unifying force Hillary Clinton is among Republicans in general and the Christian right in particular.

Walter McSherry (ph) is a 78-year-old former New Yorker. He is against gun control, abortion and gay rights. He is for Rudy Giuliani, who is pro-gun control, abortion rights and gay rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm scared to death. I myself think that the candidates sometimes figure we're going to get looked upon as Joan of Arc, and I look upon them as Joan of Arc very frequently. But some of them I look upon as Lady Macbeth. And Hillary Clinton, I think, comes in the Lady Macbeth category.

CROWLEY: Richard Land warns against an assumption that Giuliani would beat Clinton. He argues if there is no difference between the party nominees on abortion, evangelicals may drift to other issues, which traditionally favor Democrats.

LAND: There are lots of evangelicals who, all of a sudden, the environment pops up as an issue. Economic justice pops up as an issue. Racial reconciliation pops up as an issue. If they nominate Giuliani, they're in for a really nasty surprise.

CROWLEY: And despite Giuliani's lead among evangelicals, the truth is nobody has truly won the hearts of Christian conservatives.

RAWLEY: The only thing that would make me vote -- not vote for Giuliani in the primary right now would be for a really strong, powerful figure like Fred Thompson or maybe Newt Gingrich entering the picture.

CROWLEY: Allen Rawley is open to another suitor.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, it is clear the Republicans are courting Christian conservatives. Of course, so are the Democrats. Up next in our series, "God's Country", the Democrats finding faith on the campaign trail and hoping it turns into votes on election day.

Also ahead tonight, Larry King's startling interview with Tammy Faye Messner about her fight against cancer.


COOPER: We're dealing with raw politics and raw religion tonight, two big issues that are coming together in a big way in this presidential election. We're taking a close look at it in a new series we're calling "God's Country."

The research is clear. Your faith has a lot to do with your vote. But do voters want presidents to turn to God when it comes to politics and policies?

Joining us again with the answer is CNN's Tom Foreman -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Well, Anderson, the short answer right away is yes, it appears so.

Now, some liberals have criticized President Bush, saying that he wears his religion on his sleeve. But look what a Pew Center survey found.

While about a quarter of Americans think that he does talk about his faith too often, and that number has grown in recent years, more than half the voters say the president mentions his faith about the right amount. And an additional 14 percent say he should talk about it more often.

The driving force behind this seems to be that voters want to know that their president believes in something, some authority bigger than himself -- Anderson.

COOPER: Faith and politics.

Tom, thanks.

Again, Republicans have made religion a cornerstone for their White House ambitions for decades. But Democrats haven't always embraced faith in the same way, not until recent years. Except now is different.

CNN's Randi Kaye explains.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sometime between the last campaign and this one, the Democratic Party woke up and saw the light.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Doing the Lord's work is a thread that runs through our politics since the very beginning.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

KAYE: It's a new day, that's for sure. A huge shift in tone from just four years ago.

HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I don't want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore.

KAYE: Back then, Mara Vanderslice, the rare Democratic strategist who's also an evangelical, was a lone voice in the political wilderness.

MARA VANDERSLICE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It was almost like it was a joke, that you couldn't be a Christian and be a Democrat.

KAYE: These days, she's on the vanguard of Democrats' expanding effort to connect with people of faith. The reason? A big God gap between the parties.

In the 2006 midterm elections, 53 percent of weekly church goers voted Republican. So did 60 percent of people who attend church more than once a week.

In a poll taken just before the election, only 26 percent of voters considered Democrats friendly towards religion.

VANDERSLICE: Most Americans are religious. They say they believe in God, that they pray daily. It's the biggest source of joy or strength in their lives. And if we can't find a way to at least respect, if not connect with Americans on the part -- on part of their life that's so essentially important to them, then I don't think we deserve to win.

KAYE: In 2006, Vanderslice developed faith-centered strategies for several Democratic congressional candidates. Running ads on Christian radio, like this one for Heath Shuler in North Carolina.

REP. HEATH SHULER (D), NORTH CAROLINA: When I was in the eighth grade, my mother gave me a note that read, "Heath, make each and every decision as if I am standing beside you, for when I am not, Jesus Christ always is."

KAYE: Shuler won, scoring significant gains among religious voters. Democrats took notice.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a deep and abiding love for my Lord, Jesus Christ.

KAYE: Now candidates can't seem to stop gushing about God, and they're making sure key voters hear the message.

(on camera): The Democrats are putting their faith muscle in the early voting states. In Iowa, they're hoping to win over anti-war Catholics. The move is on to shore up support among mainline Protestants in New Hampshire.

And down the coast in South Carolina, they hope to tap into black churches and even pull in some evangelicals, too.

(voice-over): The Obama campaign has a faith point person in each of those states.

Team Clinton holds frequent listening meetings for religious leaders.

(on camera): As you watch the Democratic candidates talk about their faith, what do you think?

VANDERSLICE: I think it's wonderful.

KAYE: There is a risk here that this could all go horribly wrong if people don't buy that this is really what the candidates are feeling, not just being told to say.

VANDERSLICE: Well, and that's exactly what we've said from the beginning, is it has to be authentic. It absolutely cannot be made up, and it won't work if it's seen as a cynical ploy.

KAYE (voice-over): Indeed, Michael Cromartie, who studies religion and politics, says not all the Democrats' Jesus speak rings true.

MICHAEL CROMARTIE, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: I can't probe into the souls of people, but sometimes I think when they've never talked about this before and now they're talking about it, you wonder what kind of focus group told them to do that.

VANDERSLICE: So I think it has to be authentic. I mean, this is not about Jesus-ing up the party, so to speak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, let's worship the Lord today. Come on, let's worship the Lord...

KAYE: But it's not about saving souls either, it's about winning votes.


KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: We've already heard so much about God and faith in this campaign, but are the candidates' efforts to define their religious values working for the so-called values voter?

Let's go one last time to CNN's Tom Foreman -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Well, Anderson, a Pew Center poll indicates that voters at least think they know where the candidates are coming from religiously.

On the Republican side, they see Mitt Romney as the most deeply religious. That's a plus and a minus, because he's a Mormon, and that makes a lot of evangelical Christians wary.

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama is considered the most religious, but he, too, has questions about his association with African-American church leaders who have promoted what some consider radical views.

We should note that Romney and Obama have also made a point of reaching out to religious communities. So no surprise there.

The least well-connected to their faiths, voters say that's Hillary Clinton, a Methodist, for the Dems, and Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic, for the Republicans.

Now, here's the surprise twist. Despite that, these two are also right now getting the most support in the polls from the religious voters.

COOPER: That is interesting stuff.

Tom, thanks.

A program note now, tomorrow, more on our series "God's Country" and a look at the growing number of Americans who say that separation of church and state is a lie. Nothing more than an urban myth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can I sit quietly by while the very words our founding fathers intended to protect faith are used to destroy it, owing to a horrible perversion of language and law. The same first amendment that is supposed to bar government from restricting belief is used to drive Christianity from the public square.


COOPER: In fact, look at this. Seventy thousand people turned out a few days ago, kindred spirits of Pastor Parsley, all there to pray for the soul of America.

That story is tomorrow on 360.

Still to come, Erica Hill, with some of the day's top headlines. Plus, the "Shot of the Day," why dogs and bike races don't often mix. 360 next.


COOPER: Tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE," she has been at the center of religious and pop culture fame. Some would say notoriety, for decades. Tammy Faye Messner, she is dying of cancer, remaining, however, in the public eye. Here's a brief portion of her interview with Larry.


KING: What have the doctors said to you about how much time you may have left?

TAMMY FAYE MESSNER, TELEVANGELIST: I asked them not to tell me. I don't want my faith level to go down. And so I don't -- I don't know. That's in God's hands.

KING: Are you -- do you fear the worst?

MESSNER: I don't fear. I'm concerned, Larry, but I don't fear.

KING: Are you in pain?

MESSNER: All the time.

KING: The pain is where?

MESSNER: It's in my back and in my tummy.

KING: The cancer is where?

MESSNER: Is in my lungs.


COOPER: You can see more tonight and tomorrow on "LARRY KING LIVE."

Erica Hill from "HEADLINE NEWS" joins us with a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick and three other men are scheduled to appear in federal court next week. They are accused of running a dog fighting operation. If convicted on all the charges, Vick and the others could face up to six years in prison.

From Los Angeles, we want to get you an update on a story we first brought to you back in May. You may recall, a woman died at a hospital after screaming in pain on the floor for 45 minutes while hospital workers ignored her.

Well, officers showed up, noticed she was wanted on a parole violation, arrested her. Now a deputy district attorney says those officers will not face criminal charges, adding that they acted in a, quote, "compassionate and professional manner."

In Washington, after recalled fish, toothpaste and other items from overseas, President Bush has now set up a special panel to suggest ways to improve food and product safety for items shipped into the U.S. Congress has criticized the FDA's ability to monitor food after several high level cases of food-borne illnesses.

And in Brattleboro, Vermont, the naked streak is over. Town officials have narrowly approved an emergency ordinance banning nudity. Comes just days after an elderly man walked through downtown wearing only a fanny pack with his birthday suit.

He said he was from Arizona. He decided to vacation in Brattleboro after reading about its public nudity freedom on the Internet. Well, poor guy, he ended the nudity for others. He didn't mean too, I'm sure.

COOPER: Was he actually wearing a fanny pack, or was that a pun?

HILL: I think it was really just a birthday suit, but...

COOPER: Yes. Have you seen the "Shot of the Day?"


COOPER: The Shot -- the Tour de France, over the years -- you know, we've seen bicyclists crash into walls and one another. This is a first. In the ninth stage of the race, a German biker crashed into a dog that wandered onto the road. Ouch!


HILL: Oh, poor guy. Old Yeller.

COOPER: The Labrador was not hurt, a little scared, as you can tell, no doubt, there.

HILL: Aww! Look at that face.

COOPER: Can't say the same for the cyclist or the bike. The rider got a couple cuts and bruises, and the front wheel of his bike was pretty much toast.

I hate to see this again. Ow!

HILL: I'm happy the puppy could walk away. I mean, I'm glad the cyclist could, too. But little limp there for the dog.

COOPER: He actually got -- he replaced the bike, went back to pedaling, and some are now calling it the Paw de France.

HILL: Oh -- ohhh.

COOPER: But you know, you were away last week, and I think you missed probably my favorite shot of -- of certainly the last week, maybe even of the month.

HILL: I might have. What is it?

COOPER: Let's roll that. It's -- it's the new spa treatment in Japan where people bathe in a hot tub of Ramen noodles.

HILL: What?

COOPER: Yes. You're not supposed to...

HILL: Do they eat the Ramen noodles?

COOPER: No, you're not supposed to eat the Ramen noodles.

HILL: Good.

COOPER: But you know there are all these children in there, as well. You know some of them just eat those Ramen noodles.

HILL: Oh, they're loving it. They're like great.

Wasn't there a thing in last year from Japan where they were bathing in chocolate?

COOPER: I don't -- I don't remember that. But I mean, can you imagine stewing in a vat of Ramen noodles? It's so disgusting.

HILL: No. No. I'm going to pass on that. But it is fun to watch, isn't it?

COOPER: Yes, I could watch this for hours.

HILL: Boy, I need a snack.

COOPER: This is the stuff we all existed on in school for years.

HILL: And afterwards for a little while, too.

COOPER: Who knew -- who knew that, you know, we could have been bathing in it?

Erica, thanks.

We want you to send us your "Shot" ideas or your bathing suggestions. If you see some great video, tell us about it at We'll put some of the clips on the air.

Still ahead, you've seen us cover parts of the world for our "Planet in Peril" series. Now you're sharing your thoughts on one of our latest adventures. We'll read your e-mails when 360 continues.


COOPER: "On the Radar" tonight, your responses to a posting on our blog by one of the big kahunas around here, 360's Senior Broadcast Producer Charlie Moore, who wrote about his trip to China for our "Planet in Peril" series. He mentions our brand new Web site,, where you can read more about the series.

Now, a lot of you have written in with your thoughts on China's impact on the environment as one of the biggest polluters in the world.

P. Anderson, from Seattle, writes: While the USA is far from perfect, I do feel we're more responsible than China. One can only hope that China's "modernization" will create a strong, educated, middle class, that will lead to enlightenment regarding conservation, human treatment and management of wildlife, and sensible natural resource management.

Sharon, in Indianapolis, believes the U.S. shares in the blame. She writes: China has been inundated with American money for quite some time. If the western capitalists smell profit, they will seize it and milk it for what it's worth whether it's good for the environment, their culture, ore even our own country.

And Maggie, in Green Valley, Missouri, had this to say after checking out the "Planet in Peril" footage on our Web site: Of course the wildlife is one of my loves so there is never enough footage for me. I particularly like the wolves, but the cat marking his territory and the elephant trying to play smacky mouth with Anderson pretty much made my week.

It did for me as well.

As always, send us your comments and your videos to our blog, You can also read more about our "Planet in Peril" series.

For those watching around the world right now, our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is next. Here in America, "LARRY KING" is coming up.

I'll see you tomorrow night. Thanks for watching.