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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Mitt Romney Leading in Polls in First Four GOP Primary States; Rick Perry Denies Birther Claims; Politicians Using Divisive Rhetoric; Author of Corporal Punishment Book Denies Link to Deaths; Former Patients Testify on Conrad Murray's Behalf

Aired October 26, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": Piers, thanks.

It is 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. We begin tonight keeping them honest. On a political war of words that's now being waged from top to bottom by Republicans and Democrats alike. Before we get started, let's be clear. It's not our job to say who is right or wrong here, which side to support on Election Day. That's your job. Ours is simply to show you who is waging the war so you can if you like hold them accountable.

President Obama, as you know, has been on the road quite a bit lately, pushing his jobs bill, but also he is using campaign style language. Today talking to the Heritage Foundation, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan accused the president of, in his words, "sowing social unrest and class resentment in pushing for a plan that's financed by raising taxes on the wealthy."


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: To my great disappointment, it appears that the politics of division are making a great comeback. Instead of working together where we agree, the president has opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past. He's going from town to town impugning the motives of Republicans, setting up straw men and scapegoats, and engaging in intellectually lazy arguments as he tries to build support for punitive tax hikes on job creators.


COOPER: He went on to say that, quote, "Many Americans share my disappointment." Here is some of the language Ryan and other Republicans are objecting to.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Their plan, which is have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance. All right, so far, at least, I feel better about my plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: President Obama in North Carolina last week suggesting the Republicans favor pollution and letting people go without health insurance. And here's vice president Joe Biden when asked by a reporter about the stakes involved in the president's plan to pay to keep local police officers on their job.


JASON MATTERA, JOURNALIST: And if the Republicans don't pass this bill, then rape will continue to rise?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Murder will continue to rise. Rape will continue to rise. All crimes will continue to rise.


COOPER: Tough talk. For sure the language and tone from this White House has indeed changed as it gears up for the upcoming election, something we reported on in the last couple weeks.

But keeping them honest -- for Congressman Ryan to suggest that it's only the Democrats and the Obama White House who are being, quote, "divisive" is, to be generous to Mr. Ryan, not telling the full story. But bottom line, both parties are guilty of inflammatory rhetoric. Republicans Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently called on President Obama to park the campaign bus and get to work on bipartisan legislation on jobs and, in his words, are "designed to pass and not designed to fail," unquote. He is the same senator who said that his goal and his party's goal is to make sure that President Obama fails.


BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: You said, quote, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one- term president." So how do you respond to those Democratic lines of attack?

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Well, that is true. That's my single most important political goal, along with every active Republican.


COOPER: And on most of the important votes, nearly every active Republican has in fact taken Senator McConnell's advice. In reality, a lot of their language has been, to use the word of Mr. Ryan, "divisive." Listen.


REP. STEVE SCALISE, (R) LOUISIANA: You wonder why the price of gas has more than doubled at the pump since Barack Obama has been president, it's because of his failed policies.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: These are scare tactics. They have been meant to intimidate Congressional Republicans into voting for a package that the administration wants.

REP. MIKE PENCE, (R) INDIANA: Let me tell you, this administration hasn't sought to transcend politics of Washington, D.C. This has been the "my way or the highway" administration.

REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: Everything good that he said it was going to do we got the inverse of the president's promise.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA: The president has set back and tweeted, but you have got to do more and you have to lead.


COOPER: A sample of the GOP rhetoric directed mainly at President Obama. And again, there are examples of Democrats doing likewise against Republicans, mainly on the jobs bill.

But the question is how much tolerance do voters have for any of it with 9.1 percent unemployment? It's pretty clear they have got precious little faith in Washington to begin with. And a new CBS/"New York Times" poll shows 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, and 84 percent disapprove of Congress.

We should note we invited Congressman Ryan to come on the program. He declined. But here to talk about it is former George W. Bush White House spokesman Air Fleischer. You can follow him on Twitter @AriFleischer. Also Democratic strategist Bill Burton, former deputy press secretary in the Obama White House.

Ari, you worked for a president who was really criticized by the opposition side. At some point, though, Democrats say at some point it's understandable that President Obama would use the same rhetoric or the same tactics that Republicans are using.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: When I was there, of course, Harry Reid, the Democrat majority leader, called George W. Bush a loser and a liar, and Al Gore and John Kerry called him un-American, unpatriotic. So I don't think you're seeing the same degree of vitriol against Barack Obama.


FLEISCHER: When you go through those quotes, remember 1800. This is nothing. The election between Jefferson and Adams was far, far worse. It's part of the noise of American democracy. People don't like it. I think you have to keep it within bounds. But a lot of those things are substantive disagreements. There's nothing wrong with that.

COOPER: There is no denying Republicans have blocked votes for the president and appointments at pretty high levels, probably unprecedented levels, isn't it?

FLEISCHER: I don't know about unprecedented or precedented, but it's the habit of whoever is there to prevent the other party from getting its appointments through, and especially as it gets closer to the election they do that. I don't like that. I regret that. I think presidents should have a free hand in their appointments because they won the election and they should be able to appoint their people and get them in place, if that's what you're referring to.

COOPER: Bill, your former boss came to Washington promised to change the tone and rhetoric. It's understandable that there's disappointment among some that they are now using those kinds of tactics to pass bits of a jobs bill and to get Republicans to vote on it, even though they know it's going to pass, but just to get Republicans on the record.

BILL BURTON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: For starters, let me say I agree with Ari actually that some of this is just politics. And politics is OK. You have two sides which are making an argument trying to advance their side or their cause. But secondly --

COOPER: Are these politics OK? I mean especially with unemployment the way it is, I think a lot people just seem fed up with this kind of politics.

BURTON: I do think that people would prefer that Republicans in Congress work with the president to actually make some progress on the things they agreed on and actually allowed things through. The president has signaled he's willing to work with Republicans and he supported the trade bills and supports other ideas that Republicans have.

Now it's time to go back to the jobs act and actually move some more of these things through. But when you have Mitch McConnell, as you showed on the screen just now, saying that his number one job is to stop President Obama from getting reelected, you're not going to make progress. All you're going to do is make politics. And that's when politics becomes a problem is when it gets in the way of doing anything at all and making progress for the American people.

COOPER: Ari, is what Mitch McConnell saying accurate or fair?

FLEISCHER: Well, I think what he's saying is he wants to stop those policies and limit them up to four years so they don't do eight years-worth of damage. And I understand that. I think he could have said it more artfully, but that's the point he was making.

But it's not as bad as people make it out to be, Anderson, and here's why. Go back to the last big clash that resulted in something getting done, and that was debt limit increase. The Boehner-Obama agreement, where overwhelming majority of the Republican freshman voted for it, they compromised and went against the Ryan budget which called for bigger cuts, compromised and got this done.

Actually the House Democrats split 50-50 on it. Freshman Republicans voted for it by about 75-25. So there are things that get done. It's just a very noisy system along the way. And I do think that distresses people. But at the end of the day, they have been able to work things out. Another big test is coming up and that's on the bigger deficit/debt reduction deal which is due in November. We have to see if that can get done. That's going to be another big clash. At the end of the day, will they get it done? Huge issue.

COOPER: Do you think they'll get it done?

BURTON: I think it's hard to say because there's a lot of politics that's broken out and that may be OK. The intransigence that you have seen from the House Republicans, especially the House Republican freshman, has prevented a lot of important things from being able to move forward.

In this one case that Ari mentions on the debt limit, yes, a good chunk of the House Republican freshman voted for it. But keep in mind, the house Republicans control the House of Representatives and Boehner really had to do a lot to drag them along and get that done. The president wanted to do something bigger and couldn't do it because House Republicans stopped it.

FLEISCHER: Republicans were more willing to work with Barack Obama than Democrats were. And that was the point I was making on that initiative.

COOPER: There's an interesting FOX News poll. They asked whether voters thought the president's reelection strategy was to bring people together. And 56 percent said the president's message was going to be hopeful and unifying, 32 percent thought it would be partisan and divisive. It seems at least this poll, the majority of Americans don't agree with Paul Ryan's assessment.

BURTON: I think what you're going to see in this election is some pretty sharp contrasts. And this is a different kind of election because in 2008, no matter what there was going to be a new president of the United States. In 2012 I think that you have an incumbent president who is in a tough economic time, a tough political situation, and you're going to see him lay out his vision, and he's going to lay it out against whatever the Republican vision for the country is.

And I think as those contrasts come about, yes, it is going to be tough. There's going to be tough rhetoric that flies around. But at the end of the day, I don't think this is going to be anymore vitriolic than we've seen in the past.

COOPER: Not any more than it's been?

BURTON: Than in the past, sure.

FLEISCHER: From a pure communications point of view, it's far simpler to be the chief executive, one central messenger to cut across and reach the public than it is the cacophony of sounds that come from Congress. That's historically been the case. That's the beauty of having a bully pulpit. Barack Obama's knows how to use that bully pulpit from a rhetorical point of view. His problem is not going to be he won't get reelected on rhetoric. His problem is substance and the economy. Those are the two things he is running into headwinds on.

COOPER: Ari Fleischer, Bill Burton, guys, thanks very much.

Let us know what you think on Twitter on Facebook. Up next we're talking about new developments on the GOP campaign trail. Everyone wants to know if Herman Cain is for real. New polling numbers could provide answers on that. John King is here to crunch them for us. You can follow me on Twitter tonight @AndersonCooper.

Later, Rick Perry's journey to birther land. He says he's back now and believes that President Obama was in fact born in Hawaii. But he is also saying something else that doesn't stand up to scrutiny, which is why we're still, tonight, keeping them hones.

Later Michael Pearl joins us, co-author of a parenting guide called "To Train up a Child." We'll ask him if the brand of discipline his book is advocating is endangering kids.


COOPER: Why not use your hand instead of these materials?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me show you something. Does that hurt?

COOPER: Doesn't feel good.



COOPER: The world of politics tonight, in the Republican battle for the White House, there's a new CNN/"TIME" magazine/ORC polling from the first four states to hold presidential contests this year, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. In two of those states, Republican voters have Mitt Romney and Herman Cain in a very close race. John King has the poll results. John?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "JOHN KING USA": New numbers, Anderson in the first four states on the Republican nomination calendar. What do they tell us? Mitt Romney is clearly the front-runner right now, Herman Cain his principal conservative challenger.

Iowa votes 69 nights from tonight, Romney ahead. That's essentially a tie, though, Cain just behind him there. That's a warning for Texas governor Rick Perry down to 10 percent. Why is Iowa breaking down this way? Evangelicals are critical in Iowa. Among born again Christians, Herman Cain has the lead, Governor Romney, though, holding his own. Among those who say they are not evangelical Christians, Romney leads the pack. That is important to his support in the state of Iowa.

New Hampshire is next. This one here is a runaway for Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor owns a vacation home in New Hampshire. Its' 40 percent to 13 percent to 12 percent. Rick Perry way down in single digits here. That's a runaway lead. Why? Moderate, liberal Republicans by far support Romney. Conservative Republicans again by far support Romney. He's going to be hard to catch in the state of New Hampshire.

South Carolina often decisive in the Republican race comes up third. This is a tie essentially, slight advantage for Romney over Herman Cain. That's trouble for Rick Perry. If you're the Texas governor, you need this state to have any prayer for the nomination. Again, Evangelicals support Herman Cain. Governor Romney holding his own and way ahead among those who say they are not born-again Christians.

Florida votes fourth, a big diverse state on the Republican calendar, and a big lead for Romney there. Again, Cain the closest challenger at 18 percent. Another warning sign for Governor Perry down in single digits.

Look at this one again. It looks like New Hampshire. Moderate, liberal Republicans, they like Romney. Conservative Republicans, Romney leads, Cain the big challenger. Look at that for Perry among conservatives. That's a trouble sign.

So if Romney could keep the numbers as they are 100 nights from tonight, Florida votes in 97 days, 100 nights from tonight he could have a lock on the nomination. That's a big if, though, Anderson. Set aside the inevitability talk. But these numbers show us clear advantage Romney. Cain, Herman Cain, is the principal challenger right now. If you're Rick Perry, you have to wonder why are you limping when not that long ago you were among the leaders. Anderson?

COOPER: Fascinating stuff. John, thanks.

Let's dig deeper. Back with us, political contributor Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, also chief political analyst Gloria Borger. Ari, if memory serves me correct, the headline last night was Herman Cain was leading in a national poll, and now we have Mitt Romney ahead in four crucial states. What does that tell you about the field right now on the Republican side?

FLEISCHER: Number one, state polls are more important than national polls. This is a statewide series of elections. Number two, an interesting piece of data from those polls -- only 20 percent to 30 percent in all of those four states said they know who they definitely are supporting. So in other words, 70 percent to 80 percent could change their mind.

This Republican race for months to come is still marked by fluid electorate. People are not locked in. The foundations are not secure. Anything could still happen. Almost anything could happen.

COOPER: Do you think there are people that could enter the race?

FLEISCHER: No, I don't think that. But I still think among Romney, Perry, Cain and something tells me, nobody agrees with this, Huntsman in New Hampshire, I think you have to keep your eye on him. Things can change in politics and change fast. And nobody having a strong foundation underneath them means they can crumble relatively easily. COOPER: Gloria, Mitt Romney leading New Hampshire is certainly no surprise, but Iowa is a state he hasn't really campaigned much in at all compared to his opponents.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He was there last week for a bit. He hasn't spent a lot of time there. He had a near death- experience there last time. He came in second to Mike Huckabee and spent money trying to get caucus goers out to vote. And it was terrible for him.

This time, they have a decision to make. Our poll looks good for him, but closer you get to those Iowa caucuses, you have to poll the likely caucus goers. The Romney campaign has a decision. Do they go all-in and try to win Iowa or do they decide, OK, we're in. If we come in second, we can spin it as a victory. Important thing to look at in Iowa though was that he was making inroads with those evangelical voters, which was really surprising to me and very good news for him.

COOPER: What about South Carolina, Ari? Cain's strength, I guess Perry's weakness?

FLEISCHER: It's impossible to look at South Carolina without first knowing the results of Iowa and New Hampshire because they create momentum for whoever is left in the race when you get down to a smaller field in South Carolina.

Let me go back to Iowa for a second. I spent time up in Boston with the Romney people. When you ask them about Iowa, they just smile. What they're really saying is we're not going to go out there and overtly contest Iowa but with all of this divide and conquer going on, if these conservatives keep splitting themselves, this could be a Romney dream come true in Iowa.

BORGER: But Air, it's kind of hard to secretly contest Iowa because you have to organize all of these caucus-goers and bus them into the caucuses.

COOPER: Herman Cain is doing a pretty good job with that. He doesn't have much of a staff --

FLEISCHER: Gloria makes a very valid point. At this stage, you are still in Iowa. Even if you don't physically show up there, they still have TV sets and radio stations. They get this stuff. But at a certain point, you have to organize and you have to get people out on a caucus night, which is an organizational feat. So the time is coming. The Romney people are very happy with their standing in Iowa without having done a lot of work in Iowa.

COOPER: It's fascinating stuff, Ari. Thank you very much. Gloria Borger, as well. Thank you so much.

One other political note. Last night we have Cornell Belcher on. We identified him as a Democratic strategist and pollster for the Obama campaign 2008. We should have also made clear that he is currently working for the 2012 Obama reelection campaign. COOPER: Coming up on "360," Rick Perry changing his tune on the birther issue. What he's now saying about the president's birth certificate. We're keeping him honest.

Also ahead, crime and punishment. Dr. Conrad Murray tears up at his trial. Some of his former patients testify in his defense. We'll have the latest from the courtroom today.


COOPER: Keeping them honest follow up report tonight -- it seems GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry is changing his story about where President Obama was born. As we reported last night Mr. Perry spent the past couple of days playing games with birtherism, the idea that President Obama wasn't actually born in America. First came up over the weekend in an interview Governor Perry did with "Parade" magazine. Governor Perry stoke it further in his interview on CNBC when he talked about how it came up when he was in New York visiting Donald Trump.


RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I said it's a good issue to keep alive. Donald's got to have fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like you really do have some doubt about it.

PERRY: Look, I haven't seen -- I've seen his grades. My grades ended up on the front page of the newspaper. So if we're going to show stuff, let's show stuff.

But, look, that's all a distraction. I get it. I'm really not worried about the president's birth certificate. It's fun to poke at him a little bit and say, hey, how about let's see your grades and birth certificate.


COOPER: Governor Perry said it was all fun, but some Republican insiders like Karl Rove didn't think so. He warned Perry that the birther issue is bad political juju.


KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISER: You associate yourself with a nutty view like that and you damage yourself. And I know he's trying to cultivate, as all of them are, Donald Trump in order to get his endorsement, but this is not the way to go about doing it, because it starts to marginalize you in the minds of some of the people who you need in order to get the election.


COOPER: Influential Mississippi Republican Governor Haley Barbour also spoke up and said in so many words drop the birther talk. Seems Governor Perry may be taking that advice to heart. In an interview today with Florida's Bay News 9, he changed his tune on the whole birther issue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush said Republican candidates for president should reject the notion that Barack Obama was not born in America. This came after you expressed doubts about that. What would you say to him?

PERRY: I don't think I was expressing doubt. I was having some fun with Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you comfortable that he's an American citizen?

PERRY: Oh, yes. Look, it's -- lighten up a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you have no doubt he's an American citizen?

PERRY: I have no doubt about it.

But here's more interesting thing. Let's lay out our income taxes. Let's lay out our college transcripts. Mine has been on the front page of the paper. If we're going to lay out all those things, let's lay them all out.


COOPER: So there you have it, Rick Perry now convinced President Obama is an American citizen. Let's hope that's the end of the whole birther thing. Somehow, we think it won't be.

We're following several other stories tonight. Fredricka Whitfield joins us now.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. New bloodshed in Syria -- 17 people, including two children, reported killed in clashes between government and opposition forces. This as opposition leaders call for a nationwide general strike.

And better news in eastern Turkey. Two more people pulled from the rubble there, three days after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit. Rescuers have been working around the clock looking for survivors. At least 471 people have lost their lives so far.

And residents of Bangkok, Thailand, are being urged to leave town because of rising floodwaters. Flooding has already shut down the airport and the worst is expected to come this weekend.

And good news for Mexico. Hurricane Rina has weakened to a category one and is expected to keep losing strength before making landfall near Cancun. And the first commercial Boeing 787 dream-liner landed in Hong Kong today. The jet, not the flight, was more than three years behind schedule due to manufacturing holdups. And 787s are the first airliners made primarily of lightweight carbon fiber instead of aluminum.

And changing planes -- a cat that vanished in baggage claim at JFK airport in New York two months ago has been found. Jack the cat was taken to a vet and is doing well and is being flown to California to be reunited with his owner. Anderson?

COOPER: Fredricka, thanks.

Still ahead, ungodly discipline. We reported on the death of two adopted kids whose parents followed Michael and Debi Pearl, the authors of a Christian guide called "To Train up a Child." They say their book doesn't advocate abuse, but it does say parents should spank their kids until it hurts. They take no responsibility for the deaths of kids whose parents use their techniques. We'll ask Michael Pearl about that when he joins us.

Also ahead, what killed Amy Winehouse? We now have the answers. The results of an inquiry into her death are coming up.


COOPER: Last night, we reported on the death of a 13-year-old named Hana Williams. Prosecutors say that her adoptive parents repeatedly starved and abused her and then last May left her outside in the cold to punish her. Hana died of hypothermia. Larry and Carri Williams are charged with homicide.

The case bears a striking resemblance to a story we first called "Ungodly Discipline." Seven-year-old Lydia Schatz was beaten to death by her adoptive parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz. Both were convicted in the case and went to prison. Like Hana Williams, Lydia was adopted from Africa by a Christian fundamentalist couple.

The girls also had something else in common. Their parents owned copies of a Christian parenting guide called "To Train Up a Child." Authors Michael Pearl and his wife, Debi, say their writings are based on the Bible. Michael Pearl told Gary Tuchman the book doesn't advocate abuse, but it does tell parents it is their religious duty to spank their children.


MICHAEL PEARL, AUTHOR, "TO TRAIN UP A CHILD": I don't use the term "hitting."


M. PEARL: Spanking.

TUCHMAN: And is there a difference? M. PEARL: Absolutely. A hand is hitting. A little switch is spanking. A wooden spoon or a spatula, rubber spatula, that's spanking.


COOPER: In the book, the Pearls describe exactly how to spank a child. They also talked about that with Gary.


TUCHMAN: Let's say a 7-year-old slugs his sister.

M. PEARL: He would get -- a 7-year-old would get 10 or 15 licks, and it would be a formal thing. In other words, you maintain your patient air. You explain to him that what he's done is violent and that that's not acceptable in society, and it's not acceptable at home. And then I would take him somewhere, like into his bedroom, and I would tell him I'm going to give him 15 licks.

TUCHMAN: With what?

M. PEARL: Probably a belt on a kid that big, a boy. I'd probably use a belt. It would be handy. I might use a wooden spoon or a piece of, like, plumbing supply line a quarter-inch in diameter, flexible enough to roll up.

TUCHMAN: See, what I'm saying here is why not just use your hand instead of all these materials?

M. PEARL: Hey, look here. Right here. Let me show you something. Does that hurt?

TUCHMAN: It doesn't feel good.

M. PEARL: But look what it's doing. Look what it's doing to your whole body. See? You don't use your hand on somebody. That's a karate chop.

TUCHMAN: You're telling me that when you use this material, that it can't cause permanent pain?


M. PEARL: My children -- my children never had marks left on them.


COOPER: The point the Pearls make in their book is that a spanking should hurt. Anything short of that, they say, is a failure in God's eyes.


M. PEARL: Rubbing the spaghetti all over your head, you shouldn't have done that at seven years of age.

TUCHMAN: OK. And that hurts. And I'm 50.

M. PEARL: OK. But are there any marks on you?

TUCHMAN: No. But you would hit -- you would hit a five-year-old like that?

M. PEARL: Yes.


COOPER: After Lydia Schatz died, the Pearls denied their book played any role in her death. They say what happened to her is not what their book teaches. They've released a similar statement about Hana Williams.

Tonight, Michael Pearl agreed to come on the program to answer some of our questions. I spoke to him just a short time ago.


COOPER: Mr. Pearl, you're explicit that you're not in any way advocating child abuse or the extremes that cause these girls' deaths in the two cases, but if people who think they're following your book end up killing kids, does that concern you? Does that worry you?

M. PEARL: Yes. What that does is causes us to renew our efforts to reach these people before they do do something terrible. There's a -- there's an awful lot of people out there, probably in the millions, that are abusive to their children. There are men abusive to their wives. There's wives abusive to their husbands and their children, and these things have been going on, and they will go on. And it's -- where we can, we need to do something about it.

COOPER: But you don't feel it has anything to do with what you're -- what you're advocating?

M. PEARL: Of course not, no more than Alcoholics Anonymous would feel like they were responsible for an alcoholic that they failed to reform who went out and had a drunk-driving accident and killed someone.

COOPER: But your analogy doesn't really hold up with the Alcoholics Anonymous, because Alcoholics Anonymous is telling people not -- alcoholics not to drink. You are advocating people hitting kids, or what -- you call it spanking -- beating, what have you. You are advocating a severe form of corporal punishment for -- for parents.

M. PEARL: That's absolutely incorrect. We do not advocate hitting children, and we do not advocate any severe corporal punishment.

In fact, in my literature, if you read it, I speak against corporal punishment. What we teach is -- our book is called "To Train Up a Child." And we talk to parents about how they can train their children up to be happy, creative, cheerful, emotional -- emotionally stable. And so we teach that, in the process of training small children, we use corporal chastisement.

Corporal chastisement is not retributive justice designed to punish the child for the misdeeds. Corporal chastisement is getting the child's attention so that you can admonish him, teach him, instruct him, and guide him in the way he should go.

COOPER: I want to read something that you write about -- about what parents should use to spank their child. You said, "Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain. Select your instrument according to the child's size. For the under 1-year-old child, a small, 10- to 12-inch-long willowy branch stripped of any knots that might break the skin, about one-eighth inch in diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a suitable substitute. For the larger child, a belt or a three-foot cutting off a shrub is effective."

You say you -- you don't advocate hitting or hurting or beating kids or leaving any marks on them, which under the law is considered child abuse, but in fact, in your book, you are saying spankings have to cause pain, and you're talking about spanking a baby under one- year-old with a ruler. How does a baby not end up bruised and hurting when it's hit with a ruler?

M. PEARL: Well, your changing the word "spank" to "beat" or "hit" is inflammatory rhetoric that obscures what I'm saying.

COOPER: Well, spanking is hitting. You can -- you can argue about semantics, but using a ruler -- to use the specific example of using a ruler on a baby under 1-year-old, how does that not, you know, cause pain and leave a -- leave a mark?

M. PEARL: If it were insignificant -- insignificant semantics, you wouldn't be so bent on changing the word "spank" to "beat" or "hit."

Spanking is well understood, traditionally. I represent 230 million parents who practice corporal chastisement on their children. And they call it "spanking" or "swatting." They do not call it "beating" or "hitting." Because there's a clear distinction.

The distinction is spanking is administered for the child's good, and it's done with an instrument. It's done, not in order to create pain. It's not done in order to create significant pain. It's not done in order to create suffering. It's done to gain the child's attention so you can admonish them.

COOPER: What about talking to them about it? Does that not work?

M. PEARL: Well, did it work for you? Did it work for your family? Does talking make a 1-year-old and 2-year-old... COOPER: It worked for me in my family, but I don't try to put what happened in my family onto other people. But I'm just curious. In your opinion, what's wrong with talking to the child about why you don't grab food off somebody's plate?

M. PEARL: Well, if you read our book, you'd know that talking precedes that. There's a whole lot of conditioning that precedes...

COOPER: Talking alone, you say, is not enough?

M. PEARL: No. No, in many cases, it's not. In most cases, it is. But spanking is not something we do all the time. Sometimes you might not spank a kid over once a month or once a year.

COOPER: But you do advocate carrying around and having, in various rooms of the house and in the car, in some cases, a -- I want to get -- make sure I have the wording right here. You write, "Many people are using a section of quarter-inch plumber's supply line as a spanking instrument. It will fit in your purse or hang around your neck. You can buy them for under $1 at Home Depot or any hardware store. They come cheaper by the dozen and can be widely distributed in every room and vehicle. Just the high profile of their accessibility keeps the kids in line."

So you are advocating parents carry around plumber supply lines with them so they can, if they want to, in your words, spank their child any time throughout the day.

M. PEARL: That springs from a story that took place. I went into an Amish woman's house who had about ten kids all under 12 years old. And that's a pretty big brood. And she had a little piece of supply line about a foot long, maybe, hanging around her neck.

And so every time -- I asked her why it was there. She said, "Well, when the children are disobedient, I have it right at hand. I don't have to go looking for it." And she said, "Just the presence of it hanging around my neck lets them know that they have to walk the line, and so they're obedient."

So I thought that was a humorous thing. So I suggested to people that you make sure you keep your little swatters close at hand, because we don't want to make a big deal out of spanking children. We want to have something ready to right where they sit. If you've got a little boy that reaches over and pulls the hair of his brother, you want to first to him say, "No, don't do that." But if he pulls again...

COOPER: But you do know that in both cases of these girls who died and were killed, the parents did keep these plumbing supply lines around the house.

The American Academy of Pediatrics believes these conditions actually create such a climate of fear and intimidation for a child that it actually affects their development by changing -- changing the way nerve connections in the brain develop. Do you buy any of that? M. PEARL: Well, there's lots of science, lots of research that's been done, lots of psychologists that disagree with that heartily. Research has been shown that spanking creates children that are more higher educationally, that they're less aggressive, that they are more entrepreneurial, that they in every way make better citizens when young children are spanked. That's just statistics, just the facts.

Ninety percent of all Americans practice spanking. So all I'm doing is representing...

COOPER: Sorry. I don't want to interrupt you, sir.

M. PEARL: All I'm doing is representing what traditionally Americans have done.

Now as to your question about the children, no. When you have -- there's been about 1,600 children a year are killed by their parents through either neglect or direct abuse. That's an awful number. And the fact that, in 15 years of writing books and reaching several million people with our literature, only three parents happen to have our book in their home, that's like saying that, again, an Alcoholics Anonymous book in the home what caused them to have a drunk-driving accident. There's no correlation.

The parents had the book. These parents had the book because they were already molesting their children. They were already -- one of the parents was making their child eat feces, locking them outdoor in the cold, starving them. Those are not things they could get out of my book. Those are things that -- that they had a predisposition to.

The book there didn't cause those things to take place. I'm just sorry it couldn't -- it didn't reach them soon enough to stop those negative habits.

COOPER: No doubt about that. The American Academy of Pediatrics told us that your teachings go way beyond most people's understanding of corporal punishment and spanking, that they say they're violent, unacceptable and that you can't train a child the same way you train a dog or a horse, because kids' brains develop differently. Human brains develop differently at a young age and are going to respond differently.

M. PEARL: Well, they are a small minority voice in a great number of scientists and researchers who say differently. There's just a lot of evidence...

COOPER: You say you can train a child like an animal? Like you would train a horse? Or...

M. PEARL: You know, I live on a farm. I have horses and cows and chickens and pigs and all that sort thing. And I read a lot. And I noticed that the zoologists and the people who work with animals study animals in terms of how it compares to human behavior.

When I was in college and took a course in psychology, there was quite a few articles in there that dealt with animal behavior and how it compares to human behavior.

So all I have said is that, if you can train a stubborn mule to go up a hill when he doesn't want to go, then you can train a 1- or a 2- or 3-year-old child that gets stubborn. So the training principles are similar.

Let me give you the first principle in training an animal. The first principle in training an animal is you establish a relationship with trust. The first principle in training a child is establish a relationship of trust.

The second principle is the animal must know that you're not going to hurt him, and you must know that he's not going to hurt you. And that's the second principle in training children. There has to be confidence that neither one of us are going to hurt the other one.

And then you have to communicate to the animal your will. That's the third principle in training children. Communicate your will.

So yes, there's a parallel between training dogs, training horses, training cows, training chickens, training a turtle or a lizard. The principles are the same across the board. And any psychologist would tell you that that's the case if they're familiar with animals.

COOPER: Mr. Pearl, I really do appreciate your time. And it's obviously a controversial subject. And you represent a lot of people's beliefs. And I respect that. I appreciate you being on. Thank you.

M. PEARL: Well, thank you.


COOPER: We asked Mr. Pearl's representatives after the interview about the study that he was referring to. He mentioned a study by Po Bronson. We called Mr. Brunson, who's been a guest on this program before, and asked him about that study. He told us the study does not at all condone spanking and it's a misuse of the science.

Still ahead, more drama as the Michael Jackson's death trial nears its end, what made Dr. Conrad Murray cry in court today? We'll show you that.

And after months of speculation, an answer to what killed singer Amy Winehouse.


COOPER: "Crime & Punishment," in the Michael Jackson death trial today, Dr. Conrad Murray's lawyers called five character witnesses to the stand. Murray dabbed his eyes with a tissue during one former patient's testimony.

The defense is trying to paint an image of Jackson's former personal physician as a caring, competent and selfless doctor, in other words, the exact opposite of how the prosecution has made him out to be.

Randi Kaye joins me now.

Randi, what did Dr. Murray's former patients say about him?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the defense called five former patients of Dr. Murray as character witnesses, if you, to show a different side of him.

Dr. Murray, as you know, has been taking a beating in court from the state so much that this was really needed. Today, Murray was visibly emotional during the testimony. He was actually crying in court, wiping his eyes.

Now, these patients told the jury that he was the best doctor they ever had and that he saved their lives. This was a very good day for the defense, because the patients testified that Murray took his time with them, never rushed them through their appointments.

Now, here's some testimony from a patient who says he considers Dr. Murray his best friend.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's because of Dr. Murray. His -- the way he cared for you. The way he makes you feel. And the concern and the love he has for you.


KAYE: The last character witness, Ruby Moseley, lives in a lower income housing unit for elderly patients in Houston, where Dr. Murray happened to set up a clinic in honor of his father.

The defense used this, Anderson, to show that Murray was not greedy, nor was he money hungry, even though he was being paid $150,000 a month by Michael Jackson.

Ruby Moseley testified that Murray was thorough and told her exactly what he was going to do.


ED CHERNOFF, ATTORNEY FOR DR. MURRAY: Do you think Dr. Murray is greedy?



MOSELEY: No. He made a commitment to the community that he would open a clinic in honor of his dad to come to the community and to continue to take care of the patients in that community where his dad had been a physician for a number of years.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: Even the Jackson family smiled during her testimony. Randy Jackson, Anderson, said at the end, "She's sweet."

But the prosecution jumped on the fact that Dr. Murray treated all of these patients in a hospital, not at home, like he was treating Michael Jackson.

COOPER: Yes, big difference. Randi, is the defense -- is the case coming close to an end?

KAYE: It seems that way, at least. Tomorrow, the defense is expected to put their key expert on the stand. That's Dr. Paul Wecht, who they hope will help them prove their theory that Michael Jackson self-administered the Propofol, that powerful anesthetic, along with eight pills of Lorazepam, without Murray's knowledge.

Now, if the jury buys Dr. Wecht's story, they may buy the idea that Jackson overdosed accidentally in a desperate attempt to get himself some sleep.

COOPER: And is there any change in Conrad Murray's decision to take the stand or not?

KAYE: Well, today in court, the judge advised Conrad Murray about his right to testify. He told him that it was his personal right, and nobody else can make that decision for him.

And after he said that, Murray appeared to be talking it over with his defense team, but we really have no indication, at least as of yet, that Murray plans to testify. He may be waiting to see how well this expert, Dr. Wecht, does for him first.

COOPER: Interesting to watch that. Randi, appreciate it.

Let's check in again with Fredricka Whitfield for a "360 News & Business Bulletin."

WHITFIELD: Hello again, Anderson.

Bernie Madoff's wife speaking out. Ruth Madoff telling "60 Minutes" Morley Safer that she and her husband attempted suicide using pills shortly after his Ponzi scheme was exposed.


RUTH MADOFF, BERNIE MADOFF'S WIFE: I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves, because it was -- it was so horrendous what was happening. We had terrible phone calls, hate mail just beyond anything. And I said I can't -- I just can't go on any more.


WHITFIELD: She says they took the pills and woke up the next day. Her husband now wakes up in prison, where he will stay for the rest of his life.

A British coroner's verdict is in. It says Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning. A pathologist found the singer's blood alcohol levels were more than five times the legal limit for driving.

And some eye-popping numbers from the college board. The cost of studying and living on campus at the average public university rose 5.4 percent this fall, to nearly $22,000 a year for in-state students. The chief cause for the increase: a dramatic spike in tuition and fees -- Anderson.

COOPER: Thank you, Fredricka. Thanks very much.

A dust-up on "Dancing with the Stars." One of the dancers has had it with the judges, and it's not Nancy Grace. "The RidicuList" is next.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList," and tonight we're adding a dust-up on "Dancing with the Stars." That's right. There is big news about everybody's mom's favorite TV show, because finally -- finally -- someone is taking a stand against the tyranny that has been perpetrated against a group that has been silent for far too long, in my opinion. Talking, of course, about the professional dancers.

Night after night they work hard perfecting their craft. Oh, do they perfect their craft. Do you think it's easy to teach Rob Kardashian the difference between the foxtrot and the jitterbug? I had to look up who Rob Kardashian was. That's true.

They're doing yeoman's work, those professional dancers are, and then they're judged harshly by the judges, who sit at a table and get all judge-y on them.

Well, one professional dancer -- his name is Maks -- finally had enough and took it upon himself to cha-cha-challenge the justice system. Take a look.


LEN GOODMAN, JUDGE, ABC'S "DANCING WITH THE STARS": This is your worst dance of the whole season, in my opinion. Don't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all that, Maks, because half the fault is yours. The audience like the effect. They just on efficacity. I've been in this business for nearly 50 years. My...


GOODMAN: ... as a judge is different.

CARRIE ANN INABA, JUDGE, ABC'S "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Don't be disrespectful like that.

CHMERKOVSKIY: A little judgmental comments. It's a little much. (CROSSTALK)

CHMERKOVSKIY: I'm just protecting my partner.


COOPER: Tom Bergeron had to separate the parties involved. I'm out of order? I'm out of order? You're out of order. This whole dance floor is out of order.

This isn't some kangaroo court. This is "Dancing with the Stars," damn it. A little decorum, please. Thank you.

Frankly, when I heard someone went off on the judges, I was sure it had to be Nancy Grace, but I stand corrected.

Maks says he's tired of the judging standards being different for different contestants on the show. Here's what Judge Len -- he's the one who Maks suggested should retire -- had to say about all of this on "Access Hollywood."


GOODMAN: What they've got to understand is they're on trial, and we're the judges. You can't be a judge at your own trial.


COOPER: Now, I'm no Jeff Toobin, but I think that's true. You cannot be a judge at your own trial, even if the trial consists of people evaluating your Lindy Hop. Do they still do the Lindy Hop?

The fact remains, when courtroom drama meets ballroom dancing, there are -- there are bound to be hidden confrontations. It's a pressure cooker, people. People are going to say things in the heat of the moment that they later regret.

Now that everyone has had, you know, time to waltz it off, let's hear what Maks had to say on "Good Morning, America."


ROBIN ROBERTS, ABC'S "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Any second thoughts of what you said to Len or anything else, Maks?





COOPER: You want the truth, Robin Roberts? You can't handle the truth.


CHMERKOVSKIY: Everybody is waiting for me to bow my head, you know, take a knee and say I'm sorry and plead for forgiveness. I have nothing to apologize for.


COOPER: That's right. He took a stand, and he's sticking by it. Occupy "Dancing with the Stars."

I don't know what the appellate court situation is when it comes to prime-time talent shows. Maybe Maks can take the case up to Piers Morgan or Simon Cowell. Take it to Judge Judy. I don't know.

What I do know is this. This is the most significant blowup to ever happen over a rumba, a confrontation that, in my opinion, was long overdue on "The RidicuList."

Hey, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.