Return to Transcripts main page
Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Presidential Campaigns Going Negative?; California Preparing for the Big One?
Aired July 30, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, everybody, "Raw Politics," going negative -- John McCain's new ad comparing Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, his campaign making fun of the food Obama eats, the fancy tea he drinks, a former top McCain adviser asking his old friend to stop. But is Obama vulnerable? Is he arrogant? We have got some polling data that might surprise you.
Also tonight, with Southern California still shaking, new questions about the big one yet to come and troubling answers about whether they're ready for it. Governor Schwarzenegger joining us tonight.
And then later, the mystery man and his missing daughter, who is he and where is she? The latest on the nationwide search for them.
We begin, though, with the storm over John McCain's new ad and new CNN polling that reveals how Americans see the race.
First, the latest poll of polls showing a five-point lead for Senator Obama, no big bump from his European trip. As for how the candidates are conducting themselves, we asked, is McCain attacking Obama unfairly? Forty percent said yes. Fifty-nine percent said no. Just 22 percent said the same about Obama launching unfair attacks.
As for the notion that Republicans are floating that Barack Obama is presumptuous or arrogant, 37 percent told us they think it's true. Sixty-three percent said no. Regarding McCain, 34 percent said, yes, he is arrogant. Sixty-six percent said no. The sampling error here, 3 percent, meaning no statistical difference between the two candidates.
Yet, the new McCain ad today seems tailored to the idea that voters are walking around with precisely such negative thoughts about Barack Obama, just waiting to come out. And the spot was accompanied by an all-out blitz aimed at defining Obama as too green to lead and too arrogant to like.
Is it fair? Will it work? A discussion shortly from several points of view, but, first, the "Raw Politics" now from CNN's Dana Bash.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the stump, rapid-fire attacks on Barack Obama's policies. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He wants to raise your taxes to pay for bigger government. We have been doing that for years and it hasn't worked.
BASH: Yet, ironically, in a new attack ad out today, John McCain is actually highlighting Obama's broad appeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.
CROWD: Barack Obama!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: But, of course, McCain is mocking Obama here as a vapid celebrity, linking him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: But is he ready to lead?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: With this ad, McCain strategists are trying to channel their frustration with the largely adoring attention Obama gets into a hit questioning his readiness and seriousness. McCain advisers say they're convinced Obama comes across as arrogant.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICK DAVIS, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It's much more something you expect from someone releasing a new movie than running for president.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BASH: And on a conference call with reporters today made clear they're trying to capitalize on that.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STEVE SCHMIDT, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: This is a close election. We have seen much presumption from the Obama campaign.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BASH: But a new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows McCain advisers may be wrong on that. Only 37 percent said they view Obama as arrogant, pretty close to what they say about McCain. Thirty-four percent call him arrogant. The Obama campaign responded to McCain's new ad by accusing him of a steady stream of false negative attacks. Some might say, oops, he did it again.
BASH: Obama himself later chimed in with this.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's spending an awful lot of time talking about me. You know what I'm saying? I haven't seen an ad yet where he talks about what he's going to do. And, so, the only way they figure they're going to win this election is if they make you scared of me.
BASH: The ad is risky, and, some Republicans worry, misguided.
CRAIG FULLER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think that's something that the American people are going to make their mind up around, as to whether somebody is too photogenic or too public. That's the nature of our national campaigns. I can go all the way back to Ronald Reagan. He -- he was successful because he was indeed a celebrity.
BASH (on camera): Now, the McCain camp says their ad was a buzz- generating attempt at satire, but some McCain allies tell us they worry that it's coming across as snark, instead of substance, and that McCain should be more forceful about talking up his own assets, instead of talking down Obama's.
Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: And Craig Fuller, who you just saw in that piece, is not the only Republican with doubts.
Today, John Weaver, McCain's old friend and former chief strategist, broke the silence he's been keeping since leaving the campaign last year. Speaking with "Atlantic" magazine's Marc Ambinder, Weaver took issue with the ad and the attack strategy behind it, starting with the "Obama is a celebrity" line.
About that, he says -- quote -- "John has been a celebrity ever since he was shot down." He goes on to say, all the attacking -- quote -- "reduces McCain on the stage." And Weaver's bottom line -- quote -- "For McCain's stake, this tomfoolery needs to stop."
Joining me right now for a "Strategy Session," we have got CNN senior political analyst David Gergen, conservative political analyst and "Washington Times" columnist Tara Wall, and CNN political analyst with me here in New York Roland Martin.
David, let me start with you.
Weaver also called the ad childish. Could attacks like this, ultimately, which I think is what he is saying here, diminish McCain's brand?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I understand what the John McCain campaign is trying to do.
Obama has become a rock star. And they want to sort of make him to be someone who's not just a rock star, but sort of an elitist who's not like the rest of us. They're trying to paint him as other, an elitist who went to these strange school, these elitist schools. He has a strange name, and, oh, by the way, he's black and he's not one of us. And I understand what that motivation is.
But, yes, it does diminish John McCain. He's a much better person than these attack ads have been. Going after Obama, he would rather win a campaign than win a war, as if he's not patriotic, to go after him on this hospital nonsense in Germany, when he's been very loyal to the troops, now to go after him and compare him to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, give me a break. This is not the John McCain who Americans have come to love and to respect as an individual.
BROWN: Tara, the Obama campaign just released an ad responding to McCain just late this afternoon. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)
NARRATOR: He's practicing the politics of the past. John McCain, his attacks on Barack Obama not true, false, baloney, the low road, baseless.
John McCain, same old politics, same failed policies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Voters believe that McCain, Tara, has been more negative than Obama, 40 percent to 22 percent. Do you think McCain has gone negative too early, too often?
TARA WALL, SENIOR ADVISER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, you know, John McCain, historically, has been tough and has issued these hit ads, these attack ads, if you will.
I mean, if you remember the campaign between he and George Bush in 2000 during the primaries, it got particularly heated in many states. I mean, this is how he's done things.
I don't think this is -- I think this is light in comparison to -- of what's to come. I actually think Obama had a very good response to the ads. I think he joked about them. He had a lighthearted, fluffy kind of reaction to them. And he ran an ad of his own, which is, strategically, a very good idea.
BROWN: Roland, with independents being so crucial here, I mean, is he walking a fine line with those, you know, absolutely essential voters?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think he's walking a fine line, because he needs to come across to them as being the strong, confident commander in chief that he keeps saying that he is.
But, when you put an ad like that, it does look childish. Now, not only that.
BROWN: It looks petty. MARTIN: If you put those two ads next to each other, here you have a petty ad. Then you have a very strong ad that says, low road, baloney, childish.
I mean, when you compare those two, Obama looks like the adult in this race. He looks like the one with more experience. I don't understand what John McCain is doing. I get you want media attention, but I think you get attention by emphasizing your strengths, as opposed to trying to tar and feather your opponent by saying Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. That makes no sense.
BROWN: David, the McCain campaign, Republicans, they are consistently playing up this notion that Obama is presumptuous, arrogant. Can they stick him with this label?
GERGEN: I think they may come closer on that, and because I think Obama is walking a very fine line himself.
And that is, he wants to be plausible, while not being presumptuous. Because there -- this has become a referendum largely on Obama, he needs to convince people that they would feel comfortable with him in the chair in the Oval Office.
You know, Roland and I were talking about this earlier today on his radio program. Whenever we judge people in debates or a speech, we say, oh, he looked very presidential..
GERGEN: That's supposed to be a positive attribute.
And now what they're -- and Obama has been looking very presidential in the last couple of weeks. But they need to find a way, the -- and he's looking more plausible. And the Republicans are looking for a way to bring him down a peg or two, to bring him down a notch, to make you feel, he may look comfortable in the chair, but, by the way, he's not one of us. He doesn't relate well to you, the white blue-collar voter out you. You're going to stick with the decent man, the war hero.
That's the game they're trying to play. Obama's got a different game to play. I think the Republicans are playing with fire, but you have to say, the mystery of this campaign continues to be, Campbell, that, in a normal campaign like this, given the landscape, given the unpopularity of Bush, Obama would be running 10 to 15 points ahead. The fact that it's five or six means that, to some extent, the Republican campaign is working.
BROWN: All right, Roland, go ahead.
BROWN: I just think that, when you also take into account what makes this so different and unique, not only the issue of race, not only the issues in terms of how long he's been in the Senate. Also, there's a generational issue here at play, Campbell, as well. Obama would be the first post-civil rights movement baby, if you will, whereas McCain, being 71, comes from a different generation.
So, I think you have a major generational issue going on here as well. And what Obama should be doing right now, take the coat off, have your sleeves rolled up, talking to the regular voters away from D.C., away from Europe.
BROWN: All right, quick final point, Tara.
WALL: Well, that's the distinction, too. He is looking presidential, but he is still having a hard time reaching those independent voters. In fact, polls show that he's lost and he's slipped among some of those independents.
This is why John McCain thinks he can capitalize on some of that. And this is why, to go to Roland's point, that...
WALL: ... that Obama does need to be out, not in Europe necessarily -- that was great -- but he needs to be here at home talking to regular folks.
BROWN: Right, rolling up the sleeves, jacket off.
BROWN: OK, guys.
A lot more to talk about, and you can be part of the conversation right now, going on to our blog. To join in, just go to AC360.com and follow the links.
Coming up next, good idea or bad? What are you -- why, rather, are your elected representatives trying to get out of town, instead of deciding what to do about offshore oil drilling? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Then later, the Hillary Clinton factor. Our Suzanne Malveaux has new information about her role at the Democratic Convention.
And a massive manhunt is over. A mother and four children are safe. We are going to have the details -- when 360 continues.
BROWN: Prices at the pump down slightly in the last few weeks, but still averaging about $4 a gallon nationwide, and a whole lot higher in some places. What to do about it has turned into a political free-for-fall. President Bush wants offshore oil drilling. So does John McCain, but not Barack Obama.
New CNN/Opinion Research polling shows 69 percent of Americans actually support the idea. Thirty percent oppose it. But only 51 percent believe it would bring down prices in the short term. The Senate is debating it. Today, President Bush told lawmakers to get a move-on.
But, as you will see, they are more inclined to bust a move instead.
360's Joe Johns "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It sounds like a joke, but you aren't going to like this. Everyone is reeling from skyrocketing energy prices. And Congress -- well, Congress could actually pack its bags, head for the airport, and take a five-week vacation without doing anything about it, nothing.
Even President Bush, who's not exactly Mr. Popularity these days, figured the time is right to stick it to the Democrats who run Congress. Remember, he's a former Texas oilman.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Legislation to open up this offshore exploration is pending in both the House and the Senate, and all the Democratic leaders have to do is to allow a vote. They should not leave Washington without doing so.
JOHNS: Not so fast, Mr. President. This is Washington and an election year. You're suggesting the unthinkable. During that five- week break, most of Congress will attend either the Democratic or Republican National Convention, where they'll blame the other guys for everything they can think of, especially for not doing anything at all.
Despite the anger about gas prices, it almost seems like not passing an energy plan, not passing it, and then blaming the other party for that failure is a political calculation.
TYSON SLOCUM, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Right now, it does appear that the parties are more intent on scoring easy political points timed for the November election than they are on sitting down and working out cooperatively sound comprehensive solutions to America's energy crisis.
JOHNS: To tell the truth, it's already started. John McCain and Barack Obama have really teed this whole thing up.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On my way over here, George Bush was on TV, talking about his energy plan. Now, think about it, where has George Bush been over the last eight years? Where was John McCain over the last 25?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we ought to start drilling for more oil at home, including offshore. We ought to start drilling. Senator Obama opposes that.
JOHNS (on camera): So in case you haven't gotten it already, the Republicans want more offshore drilling, which is popular these days. The Democrats want to crack down on oil speculators. They can't get a compromise. (voice-over): But what seems to get lost among all these bull proposals is this -- neither of these so-called solutions would lower the price of gas anytime soon.
SLOCUM: And what we have to be honest about is that there isn't anything that Congress can do in the short term that's going to drive prices down.
JOHNS: So when you hear members of Congress blaming the other side for congressional gridlock on gas prices, just think, they had a chance to do something but they went to the airport. And those extra fees the airlines charge for high-priced jet fuel, well, that's not a big deal. After all, you, the taxpayer, have to eat that, too.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Back with our panel now, David Gergen, Tara Wall, and Roland Martin.
David, has either candidate found his voice on the energy crisis and -- and really taken a lead on the issue?
GERGEN: John McCain is finding his voice. The Republicans have found an issue.
This offshore drilling, as your poll revealed, is popular in the country -- 2-1 in the CNN poll favor it. And, so, that's why John McCain's pushing it so far -- so hard. He's finally got something.
And what's happened here, Campbell, is that, as Joe Johns reports, the energy crisis is not something you can do something about right away, unlike housing. So, the Congress actually did get its act together, did pass a bill. The president signed this morning to deal with some of the financial issues that we face, the immediate issues. But because energy has this longer time horizon, it's -- you know, the parties feel more free to make it more of a political football and try to use it in the campaign.
John McCain think he's found an issue. Republicans -- Democrats feel -- think they have found an issue. What it all underscores, though, is the need to find a president who can bring people together, who can build coalitions.
To go back to our earlier conversation, John McCain was able to run on that. These ads that he's running are diminishing that and making him look like he would have a harder time, he's crankier. And I think, ultimately, by Obama sticking to a more bipartisan line, he's going to help himself in the fall elections.
BROWN: Tara, if you believe that -- that McCain seems to have Obama, Democrats on the offensive over this issue a little bit, how far do you think offshore drilling, you know, pushing this can take him? WALL: Well, I mean, I think it -- I think it could take him pretty far. I mean, obviously, he has evolved his position on this, if you will.
But, quite frankly, both he and Barack Obama have been sitting senators for the past -- for Obama, three years, for McCain, much longer than that, of course, 25 years. President Bush tried to get this passed under a Republican Congress. It didn't work. He tried -- he tried and failed. Republicans and Democrats are somewhat culpable.
Republicans have been the ones spearheading this forward and really taking the mantle and pushed this forward. So, McCain has sort of wrapped himself around that, particularly with some of the ads he has run recently in relation to his now newly formed position on expanding some drilling. He would step it up even further and show even further leadership if he did in fact go ahead and endorse drilling in ANWR as well.
BROWN: Do you think Obama has done a good enough job of -- of really letting people understand what his beliefs are, what his plan would be on this issue?
MARTIN: I think he has done a good job by saying that we have to be looking at the long term. McCain has...
BROWN: But is that enough for people right now?
MARTIN: Well, but you have to explain that.
McCain is right -- right where he wants to be on this one, because it's more psychological. As the poll shows, they think it can cause gas prices to go down next year, when we know the reality is, it will be seven to 10 years. I think what Obama has to continue to say is, look, I understand where you're at now, but we have some structural issues that we have to deal with, and it is going to take some time. But, if we do it now, it pays off later.
At some point, you have to keep laying that out there and for it to resonate in the minds of the American people. And, so, I think that's the space where he has to be right there, because different kinds of fuel, alternative fuels, but also use Bush's own words in his speeches.
Bush said in the State of the Union address, we are addicted to oil. Use those words in addition with your plan to speak to the American people.
BROWN: David -- David, do you think it's Democrats who are going to -- they are the majority of the party. Are they going to take the brunt of the blame if -- if they leave without any relief here for voters?
GERGEN: I don't think so. I think it's probably going to be a -- a wash, Campbell. But -- but I want us to come back to this. Barack Obama is appearing more presidential. He appears more presidential. But, you know, being presidential also requires you to make tough choices and to put forward hard, substantive proposals. And I think there are many people who support Obama who feel he has not been substantive enough on this issue and on economic issues and on other issues.
I do think, in the next few weeks, even as he's bipartisan, he has to give us much more meat about what he would do as president. And this is an issue on which he needs to speak more clearly and more substantively.
WALL: I agree. I was going to say that on David's point earlier when he mentioned as well bipartisan efforts in this regard with Barack Obama.
I think he could show some real clear leadership and some bipartisan unity, if you will, on this issue, particularly if he makes some concessions, if you will, relating to drilling. I mean, I know...
WALL: ... Democrats have been no, no, no. But even Democrats came out today strongly saying, listen, we have got to get this thing passed.
And I think, for...
WALL: ... Barack Obama's benefit, he could really show some leadership in this area.
BROWN: We have got to end it there. We're out of time.
But, Tara Wall, David Gergen, and Roland Martin, as always, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.
BROWN: The Senate may not get to this one either, but, tonight, lawmakers in the House approved a measure giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco.
The debate between Democrat John Dingell and Minority Leader John Boehner was smoking hot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: I yield myself 15 seconds for the purpose of responding to my beloved friend, the minority leader. This legislation's on the floor because people are killing themselves smoking these evil cigarettes. And the distinguished gentleman, the majority -- the minority leader, is going to be amongst the next to die.
DINGELL: I am trying to save him, as the rest of us are, because he is committing suicide every time he puffs on one of those things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would the gentleman yield? Would the gentleman be kind of enough to yield?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: If that bill gets through the Senate, President Bush is likely to veto it.
Coming up next: What about Hillary Clinton? Tonight, we have new information about her plans for the Democratic Convention.
And is California ready for the big one? I'm going to ask California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger coming up.
BROWN: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at their joint appearance in Unity, New Hampshire -- some breaking news tonight about her role at the Democratic Convention, what one supporter is now calling Hillary night.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux got the scoop. She's joining us now with late new details -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Campbell.
Well, several Clinton sources tell me that Hillary Clinton will speak at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night. She has been asked, and she has accepted. She will be on stage, with all the Democratic female senators on stage with her. They are not calling this the keynote address. It is the 88th anniversary of women's right to vote, but one supporter did tell me that Tuesday night is considered Hillary night.
But those close to Hillary Clinton say that even she believes there is little chance that she's going to be picked as Obama's running mate.
MALVEAUX (voice over): So what happened to Hillary?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: They see potentially a dream ticket, a dream ticket for the White House. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MALVEAUX: In Barack Obama's search for a running mate, talk of the Obama-Clinton dream team has all but faded.
STUART ROTHENBERG, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": Most presidential nominees don't want to be eclipsed by a running mate, and they don't want to have to worry about who really is the top of the ticket.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: From what we can gather, she's not really on the short list.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: A lot of people are asking, What does Hillary want? What does she want?
MALVEAUX: Clinton's 18 million voters were once painted as the 18 millions reasons Obama would want to pick for Clinton for the number two spot. Clinton made it clear it was a job she would take if asked. Her closest friends did her bidding.
ROBERT JOHNSON, FOUNDER, BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION: She would certainly, as she said to some of the New York delegation, entertain the idea if it's offered.
MALVEAUX: Mindful not to disrespect Clinton, or alienate her supporters, Obama insists she hasn't been ruled out.
OBAMA: As I have said consistently, that I think Hillary Clinton would be on anybody's short list.
MALVEAUX: But as the short list gets shorter, the political calculations seem a little more clear.
BORGER: Hillary Clinton would be in the ticket if Barack Obama's campaign felt that they were in some trouble with the voters that she brings, the older women, those voters in rural America, battleground states. They don't think they're in trouble there, so they probably don't think they need her.
MALVEAUX: Perhaps not as a running mate, but certainly as an advocate in the battleground states, like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Clinton triumphed.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hillary Clinton can be perhaps Barack Obama's best advocate right now.
MALVEAUX: She is now fully engaged in talks with the Obama team to hit the campaign trail in the next several weeks.
BORGER: Hillary Clinton can't afford to do anything other than support Barack Obama 150 percent.
ROTHENBERG: She does not want to be blamed if he loses.
MALVEAUX: At the same time, the buzz is intensifying over who could be a running mate capable of bringing in Clinton voters.
PRESTON: The person who's best positioned to attract these older, over 55 women who supported Hillary Clinton is Evan Bayh.
BROWN: So, Suzanne, let me ask you about Senator Bayh -- or how Evan Bayh would help Obama, how he might stack up against others who are being mentioned as potential running mates.
MALVEAUX: Well, the Indiana senator, he was originally, as you know, a big Clinton supporter. He was by her side during much of the primary season. He's got a -- a clean-cut image. He's from Middle America. He's really seen as a reassuring presence.
There are some others that they talk about possible running mates, Senator Joe Biden. He could attract some of the older female voters who are looking for more experience on the team. There's also Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. He has the appeal to those blue-collar white voters that Clinton attracted in the primaries -- so, all of them being discussed as possibilities on that short list -- Campbell.
BROWN: All right, Suzanne Malveaux for us tonight -- Suzanne, thanks.
Coming up next: one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate back at work one day after being indicted in a corruption scandal. We will go up close with the senator who describes himself as -- quote -- "a mean, miserable SOB."
And the end to a manhunt for a murder suspect accused of kidnapping his wife and four children -- late details next.
BROWN: A Senator indicted and back at work. The latest on Ted Stevens' legal battle coming up.
First, though, Gary Tuchman joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Bulletin.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, a man police say kidnapped his wife and four children was arrested in New York tonight after a massive manhunt. It began near Boston, where an Amber Alert was issued, and the family was spotted on the city's subway system.
Police say the man abducted his family after stabbing to death another woman. The wife and children are safe.
Investigators say the soldier accused of killing Army Specialist Megan Touma was the father of her unborn child. Edgar Patino was arrested yesterday. Touma was seven months pregnant when she was found murdered last month.
And a 360 follow up. The U.S. Army has apologized to Samuel Snow, a World War II victim who was wrongly convicted of a crime and dishonorably discharged. But on Saturday the Army changed his status to honorable discharge.
Hours later, the 83-year-old -- and this is stunning -- passed away. Family members say he was at peace.
Incredible story, Campbell.
BROWN: Yes, it is. All right, Gary.
Here is tonight's "Beat 360" photo. Senator Ted Stevens, yes, posing with the Incredible Hulk at a party he hosted on Capitol Hill for the movie's release.
And here's the caption. This is from our staff winner, Chuck. "In a 2003 photo op, Senator Ted Stevens stands triumphant with the newly elected California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger."
(SOUND EFFECT: WOMAN SCREAMING)
TUCHMAN: Leave it to Chuck. That's a good one. A real good one.
BROWN: That's one person screaming in the background. That sounds like my baby.
OK. Think you can do better here? Go to our Web site, AC360.com. Click on the "Beat 360" link and send us your entry. We'll announce the winner at the end of the program. The winner gets a "Beat 360" T-shirt.
Senator Stevens was back at work today after being indicted by a federal grand jury. Just ahead, an in-depth look at his controversial 40-year career and his notorious temper.
And in California, raw nerves and a couple of big questions. If yesterday's 5.4 quake was just a wake-up call, how big will the big one be? And when will it hit? That's coming up on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED STEVENS (R), ALASKA: It's nice to see you. I'll have comments later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you do comments, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: That was Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who is back on Capitol Hill today, a day after becoming the highest profile lawmaker to be indicted in a political corruption scandal that has already resulted in seven convictions.
Stevens is the longest serving Republican Senator in history, and the first sitting senator in 15 years to face criminal charges. Charges he flatly denies. It's not Stevens' style to back down from a fight. He has been a senator almost as long as Alaska has been a state, and he has a reputation that, well, let's just call it formidable. Up close, once again now, here's CNN's Joe Johns.
JOHNS (voice-over): Step off the plane in Anchorage, Alaska, and instantly you know Ted Stevens is the man and you're in his state. Stevens actually helped Alaska become a state 50 years ago, and he has devoted his life to building it up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The senator from Alaska is recognized.
JOHNS: In fact, what he's been especially great at is steering an avalanche of your money, taxpayer money, to his state. How much? Three point two billion, according to the watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense. And that's just in the last four years, for a state with a population of just 700,000 people.
Multiply that by a 40-year career in Congress, and it's easy to see why the criminal indictment hit so hard.
His supporters say Stevens is keenly motivated by a concern for rural Alaska and that he is hardly the kind of man to risk a reputation built up over decades for a few freebies.
ART HACKNEY, STEVENS FRIEND: But at the end of the day, in my opinion, a bunch of hooey. Ted Stevens is the kind of person who always says, and my understanding is in this case, "Give me the bills. Tell me what it will cost," and he writes the check.
JOHNS: But there's another side to Ted Stevens. He can be -- and these are his own words -- "a mean, miserable SOB." He's a big fan of the Incredible Hulk. And just like his hero, you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
STEVENS: I'm going to go to every one of your states, and I'm going to tell them what you've done.
JOHNS: And nothing makes him madder than when his colleagues tried to block that pork pipeline to Alaska. Like when they tried to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars Stevens wanted to build those now infamous bridges to nowhere from Anchorage and Ketchikan to -- well, nowhere. And when they blocked his lifelong dream, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to big oil, Stevens exploded.
STEVENS: I've been -- I've been called a liar. I've been told that I violated the rules. Should I lose the reputation I've got for 37 years in the Senate? No one's ever questioned my integrity before this year.
JOHNS (on camera): What makes Stevens so formidable and his indictment such a shock is the sheer volume of federal money that goes through his committee: between $5 million and $7 billion a year. That's right: half a trillion dollars in federal spending, the entire Defense Department budget, went past his desk.
(voice-over) But now everything has changed. Some of Stevens' colleagues seem willing to risk his legendary anger to get a little distance from the scandal.
Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman, who's in a hot race back home, today said he'd give $20,000 he received from Stevens' political action committee to charity.
A few years back, after the double defeats of the bridges to nowhere and the ANWR vote, Stevens almost walked away.
STEVENS: This has been the saddest day of my life. I say good- bye to the Senate tonight. Thank you very much.
JOHNS: He'll walk away for real tomorrow to the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., to try to protect what remains of a monumental, if controversial, career.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
BROWN: Up next, rattled nerves in California. Yesterday's quake was the worst since Northridge more than a decade ago. But was it a preview of the big one? What the experts are saying tonight.
Also ahead, new developments in a bizarre kidnapping involving a suspect named Rockefeller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDY SHEINDLIN, JUDGE JUDY: We got your credit card -- your bank card somehow and he got your PIN Number somehow...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: A jolt for Judge Judy. The studio courtroom and everybody in it was shaking during yesterday's magnitude 5.4 earthquake. No major damage or injuries were reported. It did, however, raise fears across Southern California. The mayor of Los Angeles called it a wake-up call, hoping families will develop a plan of action for when the next earthquake hits. But will it be the big one?
CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it scared me.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tuesday's 5.4 quake may have rattled some nerves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still, you know, kind of shooken up.
ROWLANDS: but experts say that's nothing compared to what's coming when the big one hits, a 7.8 magnitude or higher. And the experts say it will. Instead of things falling off store shelves, as we see here, stores themselves may be falling down. Just as in China after the 7.9 earthquake there in May. Thousands will die and more will be trapped amid widespread devastation.
At the L.A. County fire earthquake training facility, Captain Mike Brown says they expect people will largely have to fend for themselves for the first few days.
CAPTAIN MIKE JONES, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We have fires. We have collapse of structure. We have enormous amount of injuries. You know, people screaming for help, calling 911. Of course, the phone lines may be out. So we may have people out in the street waving us down.
ROWLANDS: One of the biggest problems will be fire. Several broke out in San Francisco after the 1989 7.1 magnitude quake. Experts predict there could be more than 1,000 after a 7.8.
The last major earthquake to hit California was in Los Angeles, the 1994 6.7 Northridge quake that claimed 72 lives. Experts say even that was small compared to what may be coming.
DR. LUCY JONES, SEISMOLOGIST, USGS: A great earthquake on the San Andreas fault, a magnitude 7.8, magnitude 8, is absolutely inevitable. Whether it is a disaster or a catastrophe is going to be determined by the decisions we all make between now and then to retrofit, to buy insurance, to develop our resiliency.
ROWLANDS: California has been preparing, spending billions to shore up highways and bridges and applying stringent codes to make buildings earthquake-ready. Many new buildings are constructed on pads or rollers to help absorb the shock of a major quake.
Still, some say California should do more to protect buildings and schools, as some officials balk at the cost. Still, experts say there's a good chance that, no matter what's done to prepare, very little could be standing after the big one.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
BROWN: The nation's crumbling infrastructure is vulnerable, even without a major earthquake. The roads, bridges, power grids, many are outdated Many are also falling apart. What is being done to rebuild them? That is the subject of a special report this Friday where I talk to California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I also spoke with him today about yesterday's quake, how prepared his state is for another.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: Governor, some criticism about what happened after the earthquake. The phone lines were overloaded, making it difficult to get through to 911. How would you rate the state's readiness and response?
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: We are really ready here in this state, and I think it is because we have so many emergency situations, so many disasters, so many fires and earthquakes and mudslides and things like that. We have an Office of Emergency Services that works very closely with the local government and also with the federal government, and this is why we are so quick in responding to all of those disasters and also to the fires.
We can't continue on to decrease the amount of money that is being spent in infrastructure. I mean, they have cut in half, basically, since the '50s, since the Eisenhower era, on infrastructure spending, when you look at the Gross Domestic Product, the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product that is spent on infrastructure.
So all of this, I think, is really bad news. I don't know where the money goes, but to assume it goes to social programs or to the Iraqi war, wherever, we should really put money aside to rebuild our infrastructure. Because the fact is that all of the buildings and the bridges and the highways that were built during the -- you know, the '40s, the Roosevelt era, and in the '50s, during the Eisenhower era, I mean, we're enjoying all this great infrastructure, but it's getting old, and it starts falling apart, and it needs upkeep. And the federal government has to wake up and serve the people of America.
BROWN: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling on the federal government to step in, step up to rebuild the nation's infrastructure.
So who is making sure you and your family are safe? We are taking a closer look at that all in an "Election Center" special, "Roads to Ruin: Why America is Falling Apart." That's Friday, 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
Coming up next on 360, the massive manhunt for a man claiming to be a Rockefeller who allegedly kidnapped his young daughter. New details in our "Crime & Punishment" report, coming up.
BROWN: Now to a story getting a lot of attention and one with new developments: the strange case out of Boston involving the alleged abduction of this girl.
Authorities say her father, a man named Rockefeller, kidnapped her, and the manhunt centers on an eccentric suspect who may not be who he claims to be.
With tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report, once again, here's 360's Gary Tuchman.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Where is Reigh Storrow Boss and her mysterious father with the famous name? The FBI is leading a multi- agency search after Clark Rockefeller allegedly abducted the 7-year- old over the weekend.
On Sunday, Boston police say a social worker was accompanying the 48-year-old Rockefeller on a supervised visit with Reigh when a custodial kidnapping occurred.
SUPERINTENDENT BRUCE HOLLOWAY, BOSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Clark Rockefeller, who was carrying his daughter, attempted to put his daughter down between two vehicles when a black SUV pulled up. At that time, Rockefeller grabbed his daughter and jumped into the SUV, which was being operated by a white male driver.
TUCHMAN: The SUV was located later, but authorities believe Rockefeller paid a second driver to take them to New York. A woman has told police she'd driven the pair to the city, but only then found out about an Amber Alert issued for Reigh in Massachusetts. New York did not issue an Amber Alert.
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: New York does not routinely do an Amber Alert for a custodial kidnapping -- that is a kidnapping by a parent -- unless there's some danger. I guess the authorities didn't see a danger here. Apparently, they were wrong.
TUCHMAN: One theory cops are working on is that Rockefeller may try to sail his daughter out of the country on a 72-foot catamaran. But officials reportedly now say that could just be a ploy to take them off track.
Who is Clark Rockefeller? He has been described as a wealthy former physicist and mathematician. He is divorced from Reigh's mother, Sandra Boss, a director of a management consultant company, who lives with their daughter in England.
Police also say Rockefeller uses several aliases, including J.P. Clark Rockefeller, James Frederick, and Michael Brown. And about that last name?
BLOOM: Clark Rockefeller has claimed to many people, as his name indicates, that he is a Rockefeller, but the family spokesman said, quote, "He ain't one." They say that he is not connected with the Rockefellers at all. A very strange man, an enigma. And authorities don't know much more about it.
TUCHMAN: Now Clark Rockefeller, or whatever his name is, can indeed sail. A woman who is a sailing instructor in Boston says she taught him and that he is a competent sailor. So that's why police and the Coast Guard are searching the high seas right now. And we can tell you, Campbell, that police have telling us, they have gotten lots of tips. BROWN: All right, Gary. And I know you have also been following other news tonight for our "360 News and Business Bulletin." What have you got?
TUCHMAN: Well, Campbell, we have an update on the Amber Alert story we brought you earlier tonight. Just moments ago, the New York Police Department told CNN that a man suspected kidnapping of his wife and four children did not hold them against their will.
He was arrested in New York tonight after a massive manhunt that began in Boston when a woman was stabbed to death. The missing family was later spotted on the Boston subway system. The wife and children are safe, and the man is charged with the other woman's murder.
Tonight, key breakthrough on the salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,200 people in the U.S. and Canada. The FDA has linked the outbreak to irrigation water in Serrano peppers at a Mexican farm.
President Bush today signed into law a sweeping housing bill he once threatened to veto. The measure will provide more than $300 billion to struggling homeowners and to mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
And stocks rallied for the second straight day after the release of an unexpectedly strong jobs report. The Dow surged 186 points to 11,583. The NASDAQ gained ten points. The S&P added 21 points. Campbell?
All right. Now to our Beat 360 winners for the night. You know how it works. We post a photo on our blog, ask viewers to come up with a caption that's better than the one from our 360 staff.
Well, tonight's picture, Senator Ted Stevens with the Incredible Hulk during a party he hosted on Capitol Hill to mark the release of the film, "The Hulk."
Our staff winner tonight, Chuck. His caption: in a 2003 photo op, Senator Ted Stevens stands triumphant with newly elected California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger."
(SOUND EFFECT: WOMAN SCREAMING)
TUCHMAN: Campbell, I can't believe you said earlier that was your baby. That was not your baby.
BROWN: Like that scream, we've got to have better sound effects. That's painful.
Our viewer winner tonight is Dan from Toronto. His caption: "The latest super hero duo, the Incredible Hulk and Captain Corruption."
(SOUND EFFECT: PEOPLE CHEERING)
TUCHMAN: Dan ain't a fan of the senator from Alaska. BROWN: Apparently not. Dan, your 360 T-shirt is on the way. You can check all the entries we received on our blog and play along tomorrow by going to our Web site, AC360.com.
"The Shot" is next: a cat with holy connections. The religious image one family says is embedded on their pet's fur, coming up.
And at the top of the hour, taking on Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Barack Obama. John McCain's latest attack ad. Could it backfire? This is 360.
BROWN: OK, Gary. Time for "The Shot," and it's a good one.
People claim to see religious images in food, fixtures, windows -- but a pet cat? This is what one family in Indiana is saying tonight. You be the judge. The Johnsons have two kittens they found abandoned outside their house back in may. On the fur of one of them, they insist you can see the Shroud of Turin.
Here's the images side by side. I don't know. Gary, what do you think?
TUCHMAN: Well, I don't know either, Campbell, but I see your holy cat and raise you one really fat feline.
Meet Princess Chunky. Yes, that's what they're calling this cat at a south Jersey animal shelter. Why? Somehow the 44-pound cat went missing, and now officials at the shelter are hoping the owner will come and get her. And if that doesn't happen by Sunday, Princess Chunky will be put up for adoption.
Here's what's amazing. In the Guinness Book of World Records for the fattest, heaviest cat ever, 46 pounds. And Princess Chunky, 44 pounds.
But pet lovers -- and I'm a pet lover, too -- don't worry, that cat will not be euthanized. Already people are calling to adopt Princess Chunky.
BROWN: Yes. That is one fat cat.
All right. Gary, thanks.
Coming up at the top of the hour, John McCain's new attack ads, comparing Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Obama's response and what voters think of the campaign tactics on both sides. Next on 360.